“Surfers are five times more likely to contract Coronavirus,” is what was written in an article a friend sent me earlier this week. As I scanned the article further, it read that numerous surfers in North County, San Diego had—after surfing last weekend—reported symptoms of the virus.

My initial thought was that this was a cruel ploy to keep surfers and crowds in local lineups to a minimum, most likely carried out and distributed through internet channels by a clandestine conglomerate of doctors and physicians who are themselves, die-hard surfers.

Not going to trick me, nuh-uh. Not going to steal my waves.

Plenty of die-hards in the water this past week, even as San Diego’s mayor issued an order shutting down all beaches. Here in Oceanside, city lifeguards patrol the beaches politely asking people to comply with the order. Police have the authority to issue tickets if they deem someone a danger to public health.

Surfers still surfing. Packs on every peak.

As it turns out the article was untrue.

VISSLA's Rising Seas Wetsuit with it's built in bio-defense system.

True or not, the danger of potentially contracting or carrying the Coronavirus seems real enough for me to err on the side of caution for now.

Easier said than not surfing.

I desperately need to call VISSLA and get my hands on one of those suits (don’t worry I’ll get you one too).

Every year since 2010, I’ve kept a tide-calendar and dutifully marked each surf session. In the past decade, I’ve paddled out nearly 3000 times. Asking—telling—me not to surf feels like an egregious attack on my personal freedom. 

But, this isn’t only about me.

It’s about all of us.

I reached out to my friends at WILDCOAST and SURFRIDER and asked, “are surfers at greater risk by being in the ocean?”

Their response: there is no proven evidence that saltwater poses a higher risk of Coronavirus infection unless you are surfing next to numerous humans or near a discharge site for waste-water and sewage (river mouths or drainage areas).

As a die-hard surfer, who has surfed with sharks; broken fingers in splints; pneumonia; stitches in my head; angry territorial locals; polluted runoff; pinched nerves; heartaches; concussions; fractured bones, there is not much that will keep me from surfing.

Possibly harming the people I love, simply by surfing, might be enough to keep me out of the water—for now.

Damn this insidious wave. 

We will ride this out together.

What will you do?