BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The city of Maumee has closed all access points to the Maumee River, a directive that went into effect at midnight on April 6.
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr issued the order after hearing concerns from local health officials that social distancing was being ignored by the many fishermen who have lined the banks of the Maumee River for the annual walleye run. During the COVID-19 pandemic, practicing social distancing is among the most basic guidelines stipulated to avoid contracting the deadly virus.
“I would have loved to keep the access open. I know people are upset and I get it, but a lot of them are ignoring the social distancing order,” Carr said. “People can stop fishing for a while, but if they get sick and lose their life, they won’t get that back.”
After hearing from local nurses and speaking with St. Luke’s Hospital representatives, law enforcement personnel and Metroparks officials, Carr said he decided that in the best interest of public health, the access points would be closed and no parking would be permitted on city streets. The city will not monitor fishermen who find other access points on the river, he added.
According to Carr, St. Luke’s Hospital had reported 33 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine suspected cases as of April 6. With those numbers expected to rise and more health workers at risk of contracting the disease, Carr believes that closing access to the river is the best step to take.
“We tried to make it work, but it didn’t. I think there are people who do not grasp just how dangerous this virus is,” he said.