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This is from my bike club list serve:

Thought I'd share this from the QCW listserv. It's long but worth thinking about.


I am deeply concerned about the fact that the desire to return to racing and group riding has led us to "let our guard down" about a pandemic much too early. I did not expect to be writing this but a recent experience has stopped me in my tracks so to speak.

I have communicated with a few select friends and riders on the team but now I feel I must share what has happened to me in the last 3 weeks.

As most of you know, I am sending this message as an avid bike rider, bike racer, sponsor and representative of a second sponsor in addition to a surgeon and public health advocate.

____
Short version:
I tested positive for COVID-19 on 3/31 after developing a bad cough Tuesday and symptoms began Monday night (3/29) in hindsight with fatigue which I attributed to just over doing it with workouts Thursday through the weekend and a busy day at work Monday.

Long version:
I was doubly vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine and my 2nd shot was January 8th. In accordance with CDC and state guidelines, I did not change my activity or behavior much. For example, I haven't been to a restaurant or any other indoor activities that require mask removal. However, I did go to Roxborough pool twice a month for several weeks which is really the only unmasked indoor activity I have done. They have COVID protocols in place which seemed adequate particularly for vaccinated individuals. I did do that twice the week prior to my symptoms, including the Wednesday (March 24) before but that was VERY short (like 20 min). I initially thought that might be the source of my exposure but now I think it is much more likely that I was infected at Great Valley Thursday March 25th.
Some of you probably are pretty surprised to find out that I even would consider going to a group ride with a lot of people riding without masks. Others probably think "no big deal". Well, I pondered it a lot and sought counsel from several people I trust before I did that. IT was the first group ride I have done. Eventually, I realized I had not heard of anyone getting COVID while riding and I knew of quite a few group rides ongoing from word of mouth. I figured with the vaccine and a negative test (I was getting weekly testing with saliva protocol at work), I certainly wasn't risking giving to anyone and my own risk was low and yet my mask was in my pocket but I chose not to wear as I saw not one other mask (even after the ride when people were gathering, which I did NOT do) but I wanted to have it in case of a crash or any potential gathering where the air was not flowing.
So, initially I and some other people who I consider experts including the Montgomery county contact tracers really felt the most likely source of exposure was the pool and not the ride with all other possible sources very unlikely given that I have been so careful all along and these were the only things I had done differently.
Subsequently, I became aware of another rider who was at Great Valley on 3/24 whose symptoms started almost exactly the same time as me and tested the same day as me (3/31) and I recall being on said rider's wheel for many laps in a row when we were strung out in one long line early in the training race.
I also have talked to both pools that I have swam at (only one recently) and am not aware of even a single case of COVID exposure that came from a pool.
As such, I have to say that the science suggests strongly that while likely an uncommon scenario, both of us (me and the other rider who I prefer to keep confidential but some of you know who it is) almost surely were exposed during the training ride at Great Valley.
I have now almost fully recovered (it's almost 3 weeks and I'm not back to normal but the cough is almost gone and the severe fatigue is going away so I can start riding again (slowly).
Unfortunately, my wife was not so fortunate. She is not vaccinated and in spite of initially testing negative (I lived in the basement for 10 days), she eventually got very sick and last Saturday I had to take her to the Emergency room. Long story short, her course of illness has been frightening and she is far from over this even now. She has lost her sense of smell and taste.
I'm told that the other rider who got COVID the same time as me has had 5 members of his family in 3 different households become infected. They got pretty sick too.
I realize some people will delete this message without even reading it, some might even think I'm lying about being vaccinated and still getting symptomatic COVID. Others will not want to accept my opinion for various reasons. I assure you that I am not lying and I have studied this VERY carefully. I am more eager to get back to group riding than most people, but I also have had to acknowledge the public health risks. I had proposed that we try to study this a while back but due to lack of interest and in fact, frank opposition to it, this never happened. It appears that I have now done an experiment with calculated risks and I have an answer at least for me.
Can I be sure I got it at Great Valley?=NO.
Is it VERY likely given what we know at this point?-YES Sure, I could have gotten it somewhere else any time from 2-14 days prior to my symptom onset but the peak day of onset following exposure if 5 days so that means Tuesday-Thursday which is why my focus was on the pool and Great Valley. Other possible sources (including work) are VERY unlikely given the precautions we take at work and elsewhere.
Will I go to Great Valley again-NO. Yes, perhaps I have super immunity now due to vaccine and illness but until everyone is vaccinated, we aren't ready for this. I don't expect my opinion will influence most people but I have to make this statement. I won't be doing other group rides either (except perhaps small groups where ALL in the group have been vaccinated).
Did the vaccine help me?-YES. OF COURSE - I FEEL STRONGLY PROBABLY PREVENTED ME FROM BEING HOSPITALIZED AS I HAD A VERY HIGH VIRAL LOAD. Many of my more expert colleagues at Penn agree with this. IT ALSO IS POSSIBLE THAT MY AWARENESS OF THE POSSIBLE EXPOSURE IN SPITE OF BEING VACCINATED ALERTED ME TO BE TESTED AND TO STAY AWAY FROM MY WIFE WHICH LIMITED HER VIRAL LOAD. THe point of the last statement is that I believe many people are getting minor symptoms and not being tested so the likeihood is high that many people have gotten COVID from group rides and we just don't know it. It's also very clear that while symptomatic COVID after vaccine ("breakthrough" cases) is very uncommon, I am clearly proof that this happens and in the clinical trials, we know that the Pfizer vaccine (after both shots) prevented almost 100% of extremely severe illness and about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic disease. The realiity is these numbers don't take into account the newer variants so the efficacy is likely a little lower than that. In spite of the vaccine, there were a few days where I could not walk to the bathroom and back without laying down afterwards for a couple hours or more. My symptoms were NOT mild, but NOT severe either, they were moderate (somewhere in between). IT affected my life a tremendous amount in many ways.
DO I Think mass start bike racing/riding is safe now-YES, BUT only with masks being worn by all riders throughout the ride/race. That's one major reason I am sending this. I am aware that racing is about to start at the ACA oval in PGH and perhaps elsewhere with masks taken off at the start. I AM VERY OPPOSED TO THIS. I am convinced that droplets can spread through the air from a rider to another and in criterium races, we are often in a single line for many laps in a row plus at Great Valley for example, we go through the same space about every 2-3 minutes so there can be residual droplets and perhaps even aerosols present which linger in the air.
However, I am not opposed to racing with masks (as you recall, I was opposed to this last year, but I think Dawn and Colleen have demonstrated this is feasible and with case rates being reasonable, the risk drops considerably, though it's not eliminated in my opinion).
We are seeing an increase in cases in PA recently mostly due to variants. This email is already too long but if anyone is interested I can provide more specific information about this as I receive updates several times a week. My case is being tested for variant because I had a very high viral load. I don't know if I will be made aware of the results as that process is "blinded".
I have made a personal decision that I will not be riding or interacting with anyone that is not vaccinated.
I suggest you all ask yourselves: If you happened to get COVID and gave it to a family member and they got as sick as my wife is, would you think twice about the decision you had made. I can assure you the guilt is killing me (and the other rider who got sick same day as me also felt very guilty he told me)
Is bike racing worth all that? NO. Riding is, racing nope.
Please get vaccinated. A world without a COVID vaccine is a dark place. We have watched young healthy athletes get very sick and require ventilators. The news is not "fake". Young people do die from this and the long-term effects can be devastating. Only if we get enough people vaccinated before the variants take hold can we beat this pandemic back and get to some semblance of normalcy.
Think about the fact that over 566,000 people have died in the US alone from this. That is a FACT. Another fact, almost 25 percent of these are under 65 years old (the work force age in the richest country on the planet) and about 7 percent under 55 years old. You can do the math.
Ironically, my wife was due to be vaccinated the day after I got tested positive so we just missed out (due to lack of vaccine availability in Mongtgomery county until recently).
Also, ironically, I was scheduled to volunteer at our vaccine center the morning I had this severe new cough which prompted what we call a "red pass" which led to my testing and quarantine.
Please follow CDC guidelines. We can get back to a better situation but "Don't spike the ball at the 5 yard line"> PLEASE!
I also urge those who have done group rides (especially Great Valley and especially on 3/24) come forward if you have become even a little symptomatic. I am aware that I was tested where some might not have been, so we might be missing a LOT of cases where symptoms were less.
I am open and receptive to any comments, concerns, suggestions, criticisms of my position, private or public.
I'm not going to judge specific people publicly, none of us really know for sure how to act, we all have to do what we think is right. But, keep in mind that if you think you are "free" to not wear a mask, consider if "freedom" extends to putting other people's health at risk because that IS what you are doing.
I do think it is my responsibility to educate.
In the very near future, the Academy of Master Clinicians at Penn (I was inducted in 2019) will be sending out a postcard about the importance of mask wearing and we are now working on another one on the importance of the vaccine. I was very involved in the development of the mask card which is now done and translated into French and Spanish (and working on Chinese and Vietnamese) and am now working on the vaccine card.
 
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