December 28, 2021 – A message from SLBC Board President, Dick Lazaroff 

I hope all enjoyed the holidays and are staying well as we approach the New Year. We WILL NOT be re-opening January 3rd. I apologize for the length of this note and its detail, but it is necessary to explain where we stand.
 
COVID numbers continue to be occurring at an alarming rate with the Omicron variant. Fortunately, breakthrough infections appear to be mild. There will come a time when we must all accept some risk of exposure in our daily lives as hospitalization and death due to infection is rare among those vaccinated and boosted. This nuanced approach to COVID can be heard in the media, but only in the presence of a lot of reporting that can create fear.
 
Prior to the Christmas holidays, a single case occurred at the Center. That individual believed they contracted the infection from a friend. In addition, they were taking a medication that placed them in a compromised immune state. Closing the Center due to this case was not absolutely necessary from a medical viewpoint. However, the surge in the community made it likely there would be other cases and more exposures at the Center—this would have resulted in many families needing to interrupt their holiday plans. This was unacceptable.
 
So, when do we plan to re-open and how will “exposures” be handled next time around? Remember, the recommendations will change frequently and we will respond as best we can.
 
1. Please notify the Center ASAP if you are diagnosed with COVID (Researchers estimate that people who get infected with the coronavirus can spread it to others 2 to 3 days before symptoms start and are most contagious 1 to 2 days before they feel sick.) Your identity will remain anonymous. You cannot return until 5 days after symptom onset and after resolution of fever for at least 24 hours. A mask should be worn for 10 days.
 
2. As far as those “exposed”, only close contacts (those within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) are deemed to have been truly exposed. Since all of our members are immunized, all may return to the Center. Those considered close contacts (we will make an announcement on the date and what game the individual played in) may return but must wear a mask for 10 days. All others at the Center that day may return and play without a mask. Anyone developing COVID symptoms should be tested ASAP and remain in isolation until the results are known. 
 
3. At the Bridge Center, we are all immunized and we are now requiring a booster in anticipation of this becoming the definition of “fully immunized". In terms of mitigating close exposures, though we are certainly within six feet of each other at the table, we can make an effort to have rounds of less than 15 minutes provided there are enough tables (13) to allow for a two boards per round rotation.
 
4. If you are immune compromised and still wish to play F2F bridge, consider wearing a mask at all times while playing or simply stay away.
 
5. All the above would still be necessary even if all wore a mask all the time. The risk of transmission, however, would be reduced some. The preventive benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and wearer protection. We do not plan to require mask wearing to re-open unless the membership voice a preference for this step.
 
It is the goal of the Board to have the Bridge Center open for F2F play ASAP. The mental and physical health benefits of social interaction and being part of a community are enormous. The risk of F2F bridge can never be zero. It has been our policy to put in place all possible mitigation measures (requiring proof of vaccination and booster shots, upgrading our ventilation system, spacing tables apart and working to shorten time played per round). We are also committed to providing timely up to date information about COVID and any potential exposures, so that all players may make an informed decision about play. 
 
We hope to see you at the bridge table soon, but we will not re-open January 3rd. It is our belief that a significant percentage of our membership are not ready. Though we are concerned about F2F bridge becoming irrelevant in the minds of some, we also believe in our membership and their allegiance to the game and to the club.
 
We will watch local COVID numbers carefully as well as information about the seriousness of COVID infection among those fully Immunized and re-open when we believe it is prudent to do so.
 
WHILE WE ARE WAITING TO RE-OPEN, PLEASE SEND LINDA CURRIER (linda.currier@stlouisbridge.org) COPY OF YOUR COVID BOOSTER. THIS WILL CUT DOWN THE WORK REQUIRED AT THE DOOR WHEH WE DO RE-OPEN. We do intend to require a booster to be considered fully immunized.
 
THANK YOU FOR YOUR STEADY ONLINE PLAY. And thank you for your support as we continue to try to thread the needle.  Dick