Possible Over-Reaction to COVID-19 by County Recreation Department in Water Park Closure

The COVID-19 pandemic has made all of us aware of the danger of this disease and the need to take reasonable precautions. We all recognize that there is still risk. A recent letter to the editor of a local newspaper questioned the closing of the popular local water park for the entire summer. We all know the joy and benefits of wholesome recreation at such parks, and we all know that there is added risk due to COVID-19. In effective risk management, one weighs the benefits vs the risks.

The options range from 1) opening the park with no limitations (Accepting the Risks), to 2) opening the park with some restrictions (Reduction of the Risks), to 3) closing the park for the entire Summer (Elimination of the Activity & Risks). Closing the park does take away the risk, but is the least desirable choice for recreation providers because it also takes away ALL of the benefits of the activity from the youngsters – and should be chosen only as a last resort.  The task is to make the comparison but sometimes we forget there is risk in everything we do. This writer makes some sound points regarding risks and their control. Unfortunately, those in charge of recreational (and other events) sometimes tend to over-react to risk. Thanks to Reid Derr, retired professor, East Georgia State College and former wrestling coach for permission to reprint this letter. DC

By Reid Derr

 To the Editor:

Please allow me to be among many who disagree with the Herald’s distinguished editors and the Statesboro Bulloch County Parks and Recreation’s decision to close Splash in the Boro.

In the experience of living the human life and enjoying recreation there is always risk, and recreation always involves managing risk.  That’s why there are batter’s helmets and shin guards.

  • At Splash, there is the risk of drowning, so Splash has personable and dedicated lifeguards.
  • There is the risk of water-borne infection, hence chlorine and filtration.
  • There is the risk of injury through falls, choking, and jumping, hence a variety of basic park rules.
  • There is the risk of food poisoning, hence guidelines for food preparation of snacks.

But you mean to tell me that the recreation department cannot handle the relatively remote risk for young people of contracting a virus that has to date affected only fifty-three (53) of Bulloch County’s approximately 77,000 residents?  (That is .068 percent of the population over two months.)

Furthermore, the virus thrives in closed quarters, not open spaces, and threatens primarily the elderly and those with underlying physical conditions.  How many of Splash’s clientele fit into those categories?   In addition, the relentless South Georgia sunlight kills the virus and, stimulated by the sunlight, our bodies produce vitamin D, which enhances our health.

I suggest that the county authorities reevaluate this decision using some common sense and more realistic and broad-based risk assessment before they take away the freedom and pleasure of younger people enjoying the water park, the recreation department enjoying the revenue, and the lifeguards enjoying their jobs.

Reid Derr

Statesboro