Fishing in the Time of Coronavirus

Mar 16, 2020
No, this is not the Death Star, but some say it could be a very large problem for many of us considering its tiny size.

By Frank Sargeant, Editor

As this is written, the world is undergoing a level of mobilization unseen since World War II. Some of it may be over-reaction, but there’s no doubt that thus is a real, no-kidding worldwide crisis that’s going to affect us all for months to come.

The enemy this time is not a mad dictator, but rather an invisible microbe—but one that apparently has the potential to be deadly to many of us. The human race seems to have almost no resistance to contracting it. In the U.S. alone, health authorities are estimating that over half of us might get it. While doubters are noting that not nearly as many have died from coronavirus as from other strains of flu, we are only in the first weeks of a curve that’s rapidly going upward.

And while the vast majority will recover quickly, just as with other strains of flu, some will not. The World Health Organization currently estimates a death rate of around 3 percent, while some other agencies have put the number as low as 1 percent. That does not sound like much until you look at the likelihood that, in the U.S., some 160 million of us are allegedly likely to get it according to federal health officials. One percent of 160,000,000 is 1.6 million. Three percent is 4.8 million.

Among those over 60, the death rate has been around 10 percent, approaching 15 percent for those over 80. The average age of the U.S. Senate is 61.8, and of the House, 57.8. Donald Trump is 73, Nancy Pelosi 79. It’s safe to say we can expect Washington to go all in to stop this disease.

But at this point there seems to be no stopping it, only alleviating the impacts. There are many folks out there who have it and don’t know it according to the CDC—the symptoms can be very minor for many, but they are still contagious.

I’m not a doctor, and don’t play one on TV. But what the doctors—including my own son--are telling us is that the goal is to lower the rate of spread, which will mean that those who do get a serious infection will have a bed in the intensive care unit and a ventilator available if needed. A rapid spread, on the other hand, could make things difficult for all. Hospitals could be overwhelmed, as they apparently have been this week in Italy.

The fishing industry is doing the right thing. Over the past week I’ve had literally dozens of event cancellations come in to the Fishing Wire for posting, including some from nearly every state, and ranging in size from small regional game and fish meetings to massive boat shows that would normally generate millions of dollars for the industry. My friends in the guide business say business has fallen off a cliff.

While we’re all hoping this will subside in a couple of months and business will return to normal, if it does not, jobs at all levels will be affected, as well as the businesses that provide those jobs. Supply issues from China may also become huge if the current reduction in cases there proves short-lived—most tackle, lures and accessories used worldwide are made in China. To say nothing of our 401-K’s—don’t remind me.

In the meantime—one of the best things we can probably do is go fishing. Angling is a sport of low human density, lots of fresh air and plenty of sunshine, all of which give us the best shot at staying healthy. The same might be true for spring turkey hunting, hiking or camping. Getting outdoors also helps us reduce stress, something most of us can use right now.

Of course, for those at highest risk, the best advice is simply to stay home, period.

It’s going to be a rocky few months, any way we slice it. Many of the conveniences and daily routines all of us expect as Americans may temporarily go by the wayside. (Like toilet paper on the Walmart shelf . . . .!) But we’ll get through it. And we’ll come out the other side much better prepared to deal with the next of these bugs, highly likely somewhere on the horizon in this age of global travel and commerce, but hopefully many years in the future.

If you’re not already up to here with info on the virus, here’s a link to an article my M.D. son sent me, outlining the position of a lot of physicians at present: https://medium.com/@hjluks/covid-19-update-3-14-2020-a-message-from-concerned-physicians-33d00b88eefd