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Experts share tips on staying safe on the waterways

Experts say that now is not the time to neglect social distancing.

Posted: May 9, 2020 7:48 PM
Updated: May 15, 2020 12:46 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Summer is on the way, and the warm temperatures Oregonians are experiencing come with the desire to get out of the house for some fresh air and scenic views.

This rush can come with risks, especially during a pandemic. Experts say now is not the time to neglect social distancing.

"Please keep in mind that we are not in a completely safe place and what we want to try to do is not go back to that growth curve where we see COVID cases climbing,” Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health said.

Proper knowledge of water safety is crucial to keep yourself and others safe. While data does not show that coronavirus lives in the water, experts say that should not stop you from remaining alert.

"In a water situation, given the fact that there's not a lot of really tepid warm water right now that people can enjoy, you'll sort of be packed into small areas,” Davis said. “That's where the risk really comes. If you find yourselves in close proximity with someone else, please do wear a mask.”

Davis said there have been drownings this year from people going into the water too soon.

"One thing to keep in mind is that if you are out on the river and you need a rescue then you're potentially putting some of those search and rescue people who will respond to you at risk,” Davis said.

The public is warned to avoid crowded areas and popular beaches and to continue wearing a facial covering, even when outdoors.

The county says that airborne and droplet transmission is the main concern right now.

“We walk around or away so that we don't come across folks,” park visitor Gail Greenhalgh said. “I’m a rule follower, so I think following all the rules of safety on the water is huge.”

Greenhalgh said that she and her husband stay away from any type of groups and expressed the importance of doing your part within the community.

“We’re big fans of social distancing and masks,” Greenhalgh said. “We’re both in that age group, so we have to be really careful.”

According to the Oregon State Marine Board, 19 percent of all water-related fatalities are caused by falls.

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