Like so many organizations, the YMCA of Grand Bahama, your YMCA, has had to close all its facilities, inside and outdoors, starting on Monday, March 16. This is in compliance with edicts from The Bahamas Government and recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, made to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Coronavirus.
Tentatively the Y is set to re-open on Monday, March 30.
The YMCA has a presence in 120 countries. Its focus worldwide is: “For youth development, for healthy living, for social responsibility.” What could be more appropriate as a mantra for our YMCA as we, as the world, deals with this massive public health problem?
We must ensure that our youth remain safe, our communities stay healthy and our people are committed to care for one another. In these uncertain times, and as we move through uncharted waters, having the approach led by organizations like the Y is crucial.
We have all been given guidance as to how to help mitigate this problem: wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, and more. Perhaps less known is that, even if you are healthy, you can be a carrier of the virus. This can happen if you come into contact with a friend or stranger who may have been tested positive, or more likely at present, may not have been tested at all. There is a widespread shortage of testing equipment and of medical staff to undertake the tests. Hence, if you sneeze, do so into the inside of your elbow. If you feel sick, stay home. If you have a breathing problem seek medical help, immediately.
Think daily about who and where you need to go and with whom, not where you would like to go and with whom. The US has just mandated that no gathering should exceed ten people, and failure to comply is subject to penalties for those becoming “a danger to public health.” As we have seen in Italy and Spain, numbers can spike very quickly; that can happen in any country where the precautions are not taken soon enough.
Airplanes and airports, cruise ships, schools and sporting events, even churches and gyms, all pose significant risks. You can no doubt think of more places where even smaller groups congregate. While the virus is only deadly in about 2% of cases, just having it, or even being near a person who gets it, can put you out of action for at least two weeks. You may need to start self-isolation, or a 14-day quarantine period. In the UK and US people over 70 are being asked to stay at home indefinitely, a form of self-isolation for one of the world’s most vulnerable groups. Where dying does occur, it is said to be extremely painful, and harrowing to those who have to attend.
So, pay close attention to all your circumstances, and to our youth, our health and our social responsibility. By doing so, you can become part of the solution instead of being, potentially, part of the problem. As Dr. Fauci, Director the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases in the US has said: the best result will be if we are able to say we were over-cautious.