Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from Nanka President
I have been carefully following the ever increasing news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and trying to gauge its possible impact on our sport here in Southern California. To this end I have been consulting with our NANKA leaders and others with better knowledge of medical, infectious disease and public heath than myself. My intention is to understand how to take a position that would be in the best interest of our members without any overreaction. I understand the perspective that some believe that the situation and risk to COVID-19 in Los Angeles is not as scary as other parts of the US or the world and that cancelling opportunities to compete or practice is not desirable. But I believe that it is important for communities to look out for one another and for us to do what is best for our local judo communities and dojos.
Our newly formed Medical Advisory Committee has offered their recommendation and opinion on whether NANKA should hold its Spring Tournament as scheduled, they inform us that COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus and its spread will probably get worse before it gets better, that the risk is great. By all accounts, experts are indicating that the COVID-19 death rate is likely to be 20 – 35 times greater than flu. According to the CDC the “death rate of influenza for the 2018-2019 Flu season was 34, 200 in the US”.
Now admittedly most COVID-19 deaths are occurring in people with bad or compromised health conditions. The older you are the more likely you are to die due to COVID-19. At the other end of the spectrum, it is very possible that infected children and those who are fit and healthy may not show any signs of having the virus at all and not be aware that they are potential vector transmitters of the virus.
By their nature our tournaments are a gathering of people coming from different neighborhoods of Los Angeles and surrounding counties, all sitting, socializing and mingling in proximity. While, our participants are defying best personal distance practices to fight in very close contact. This situation can only be viewed as potential for increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. It only takes one person who due to the 5-day incubation time may not be aware of their infection, to unknowingly pass it to many other people. Who when they go home in turn pass it on to an at risk member of their family.
While there are personal hygiene behaviors and potentially other restrictive strategies, we can use at the tournament site, they are not sufficient and cannot guarantee protection from COVID-19, even with the perception of a low risk of infection. The only safe way to avoid being infected by the virus is to avoid the places where it can be passed on.
The question to myself is whether the safety and protection of our members, their families, our volunteers and staff is more important than the risk of gathering and competing and the potential loss to our revenue.
These are the reasons why, after detailed and thoughtful discussion, consultation with those knowledgeable in infectious disease and public health, I have decided that we should in good conscious postpone the NANKA Spring Tournament and reschedule for later date and the risks to health and safety are less.
This decision is not one made in panic because there is risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus, rather it is one of precaution because we cannot guarantee there is no risk. To do otherwise given the situation and the concerns being expressed locally and nationally would be irresponsible.
Nanka Yudanshakai, President