(Current as of 11/20/2020)
Here at the QERC, we have been actively monitoring the Covid-19 pandemic, and take recommended precautions in accordance with our sponsoring institution Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma and the guidelines established by the Costa Rican Ministry of Health. We regularly monitor websites and news sources in order to actively implement procedures and standards that minimize risk to ourselves and other visitors. Three of the official sources we use are the CDC, the Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica (Costa Rican Ministry of Health), and the U.S. State Department Travel Advisories for Costa Rica.
We practice familiar precautions such as social distancing, frequent washing of hands, operating at a limited capacity, wearing masks when in public spaces, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze, etc… We also implement sterilization procedures for maintaining clean surfaces and research equipment at the field station. We create separate spaces for visiting individuals (outside our social bubble) and those that live together in the field station, following guidelines set for shared housing. Limited contact with individuals from outside our group will be particularly important when we travel to urban locations and other parts of the country. We will be monitoring local health policies and restrictions closely, as well as international policies, and plan to adapt to medical counsel from reliable sources.
There is both cause for concern and for optimism regarding travel in Costa Rica during the Covid-19 pandemic. The good news is that Costa Rica has contained infection rates relatively well and has ample capacity for treating life-threatening cases in professional medical facilities. At the time of writing this (11/20/2020), the following statistics are positive factors:
- Costa Rica’s case and death rate per capita is lower than the United States as a whole, and lower than at least 40 of the 50 states, around near where California would rank
- There have been no confirmed cases in the San Gerardo de Dota valley (our immediate community), and extreme caution is being taken by all lodging and service locales.
- Costa Rica is well-prepared to treat the infected individual with all the professional medical services expected. To date, no one has been denied an ICU bed or ventilator that needs one
We feel confident that the risk for infection is relatively low compared to most other venues for social interaction. Though lower than most contexts, there is still considerable risk of infection. Here are some cautionary considerations:
- The CDC and U.S. State Department Advisory both rank Costa Rica at a Level 3 Warning, based on the assessment that Covid-19 risk in Costa Rica is high (though lower than the U.S.)
- Costa Rica is adding new cases daily, at a 7-day-average rate per 100,000 people of about 20 people; this is lower than the U.S. at 50 per 100k, but higher than Canada at about 13 per 100k.
This topic is an ongoing concern, and we will continue to be vigilant and communicate relevant updates concerning Covid-19 safety expectations and protective policies.