This week, just 72 hours before Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced community pools could open May 26, the mayor of Avon announced that the city’s Aquatic Center would not be open this year due to COVID-19 concerns and uncertainties.
We applaud Mayor Bryan Jensen’s decision, albeit with heavy hearts because nothing is more enjoyable than hanging out in a city pool, enjoying the cool blue waters and the companionship of friends and family.
Many other cities, including Rocky River, have not canceled pool openings, just postponed them, working out staffing and health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Social media went wild with protests. But Jensen said it's his responsibility to make tough choices to protect all residents, including children initially thought to be a group least affected by the disease, which does not have a vaccine to prevent or treat it. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen children are impacted in a life-threatening way from the virus.
The mayor, who is a father and grandfather, said he'd rather take grief for not opening than to open and have to face the parent of a child who catches COVID-19, and that includes kids who serve as lifeguards and summer maintenance help.
As of late last week, guidance on opening public pools safely had not been posted on the Lorain County Public Health website.
Notwithstanding how a city or other entity would do crowd control on a blazing hot day when everyone wants to use the pool pass that in some cases costs hundreds of dollars, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention addressed concerns about the accoutrements of pools and how to keep them clean. Those items include: handrails; slides; the structures for climbing and playing; lounge chairs; tabletops; pool noodles; kickboards; door handles and surfaces of restrooms; handwashing stations; diaper changing stations; and last but not least, the public changing rooms and showers.
Pool chlorine will, it reports, kill the virus. But what about all those surfaces mentioned? Most are not in the water. And you can bet dollars to doughnuts that masks will not be worn as a safeguard against this airborne virus.
Yes, people can decide how they will risk their own health. But what about the health of others if you are infected and don’t know it? Please, do not bring up the U.S. Constitution. I think our Founding Fathers were a little busy trying to establish a democracy and didn’t consider swimming in a pool (or shopping at a mall or drinking in a crowded bar, if you want to go that direction) an inalienable right.
Bravo, Mayor Jensen, for putting public health first. We hope all our other mayors follow suit.