Unfortunately, Canoecopia did not happen this year due to the rapid changes that have come about due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Like everything else, concerns about the spread of COVID-19 have affected paddlesports. What kinds of activities are safe? Can we hold classes, symposia, guided trips, or races this summer? With questions like these in mind, one member of our PaddleSafely team, John Browning, has collaborated with several other experts in the fields of health care and paddlesports to create a research paper that addresses the issues of risk assessment and risk management. The lead author was Steven Henkind MD, PhD., John Browning, EMT, was a co-author, along with Jacqueline Whitaker, RN, Robin Pope, PA, PhD and Timothy Finkenbinder, JD. This was an exhausting effort to try and keep up with the daily changes occurring while doing research and writing. All of the team members are, in addition to their professional titles and degrees, active in the ACA, and are at various levels, instructors in the ACA. Nice job Dr. Henkind, and all the co-authors! This research paper has been linked on a new page of this website devoted to information on COVID-19 as it relates to kayaking and paddlesports. You can find the page listed below the “Resources & Links” page to the left.
Dr. Henkind and his colleagues have done a nice job of putting all the relevant information from a variety of sources together into one document making it easier for paddlers to find and digest what we know and how it may affect what we do going forward until a vaccine or definitive treatment is developed. Some larger group events may very well be cancelled this season due to the difficult logistics of trying to deal with infection control, but many paddling activities may be able to go on with some prudent modifications. Knowledge and planning is key. Ignorance and fear are counterproductive. While this is a long document, I think it is well worth the time of any paddler to read through it. You may not be organizing any large-scale events, but it is worthwhile to consider what you can do to keep you and your friends safe on the water this summer.
Here’s hoping we will be able to remove this new page from our website next year because it is no longer a concern. In the meantime, stay informed, plan ahead, and stay safe!