The quick answer is NO. Read on to see why I believe that.
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM ROCKET:
As of the middle of March 2020, the COVID-19 virus has been identified in over 140 countries and every single state in the United States, making it one of the, if not THE, most viral epidemics in history. That is because it spreads sooooo easily.
A person carrying the virus simply needs to sneeze or cough and the tiny almost invisible droplets settle on virtually any surface, hard or soft, where it could live for up to 9 days, to be accidentally picked up by any unsuspecting person. That surface could be a hand railing, or gas pump nozzle or a seat at the pickleball courts, or another person’s clothing that you just touched elbows with.
The point is, the virus moves around easily, and it is transported by people who have ZERO idea that they have it, or where they picked it up from. Did the person hug a grandkid a couple of days ago. Did the person pump some gas and didn’t immediately wash or sanitize their hands before accidentally putting their hand to their face (eyes, nose or mouth). We all touch our faces so much without thinking. But that is how the virus enters the body, only to be sneezed or coughed out again on the next seemingly innocent surface.
Oh, and did I mention that a pickleball court is a hard surface? Yes, if a person, unknowingly carrying the virus, playing before you arrived at the courts, sneezed or coughed while playing, the tiny virus carrying droplets have settled onto the court. From there the virus can easily be picked up on the bottoms of players shoes, but waaaaay more importantly, onto any pickleball that bounces in the infected area.
Now it transfers to your hands or the glove you are wearing. Just don’t touch your face or send the infected ball back to an unsuspecting opponent.
Yes, the virus can move around that easily. That is why we are seeing the number of positively identified people growing like wild in so many places.
So to answer the question, can you play pickleball safely? NO, IT JUST CAN’T BE 100% SAFE
My opinion, based on what I now know about the transporting of the virus, is this:
It has nothing to do with wearing gloves because gloves can retain and pass on the virus.
To play almost 100% safely….
1) You must wash the balls before you begin your game.
2) Every person on the court would have been through 14 days of isolation directly prior to coming out to play. This would assure they have not unknowingly picked up the virus anywhere. If they’ve been anywhere around people after completing the 14 days of isolation and prior to coming to play, they could potentially be carriers again, so invite someone else.
3) Any benches or chairs at the court would need to be sanitized.
4) The courts you are about to play on haven’t had anyone carrying the virus playing on the courts in the last 9 days (supposedly that is the maximum about a time the virus can live on a hard surface). So there is no danger of the ball picking up the virus while you are playing.
I personally live in a tiny rural town that I lovingly call Mayberry when I’m on the pickleball trail. Well, the COVID-19 has been positively found now in Mayberry and we are encouraging everyone in our tiny community to hunker down for a few weeks so we can drastically limit the incoming or outgoing spread of this disease. Because it travels so quickly and so silently, we simply don’t know of any better way to battle its growth.
So for those who may think I’m infringing on your right to play or right to congregate, that is not the case at all. This post is simply to let you see the situation from my viewpoint and you then can make any decision you choose. But now it is simply a decision with more things to think about.
Here in Mayberry, 1% of our population plays pickleball and they have individually all decided to help our community slow the spread rather than take a chance of unknowingly spreading it on to others.
As much as I’d love to be out on the pickleball courts or at the restaurants and movie theater with them, I am very thankful for their choice.
Good luck in your community. May everyone stay healthy and virus free until we meet on the courts again.
Back to my 14 isolated days.
All the best,
The Pickleball Rocks Team
DISCLAIMER: Any numbers quoted in this post may not be exact, but they are close and pertinent to the message I wanted to convey to all my pickleball friends.