It’s Friday the 13th as I’m typing this and I can’t help but start to feel a little worried as I’m sure most are during this time of uncertainty and nervousness surrounding the Coronavirus. I can’t help but think that the Coronavirus is a great reason to go outdoors.
The president has officially declared a national emergency, and that means states can now utilize funding to help with getting people the help they need to feel better.
This post isn’t about how to avoid being sick though. This is about our hobby that we all love, and how it’s affected. Numerous live-music events and social gatherings have been cancelled, schools are extending time off, and employers are having employees work from home.
The thing that can be a respite, or a nice getaway for people is being outside, or what some are calling: Social Distancing.
As a bit of an introvert and someone who definitely likes his own time, I’ve been social distancing for a while, and I can say that being out in nature is a great way to not absorb the 24-hour news channel. It’s a good way to help with the nerves and anxiety, and was the first thing I turned to deal with my own mental health.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife announced today that for now the majority of the parks remain open. Tyler State Park was closing for the day because of a suspected case at the park, (that turned out to be false), but the Texas Freshwater Fisheries center and Sea Center Texas were closing temporarily.
They also sent an email with guidelines we can follow, and it reads:
“Here’s how you can help:
Print your day-use and camping permits before your visit to a state park. You can even print permits for reservations made through the call center. This will help reduce or eliminate time spent in the park office to check in. Simply log in to your account and select “Pre-Registration & Site Permits” for camping reservations, or “Print Tickets & Daily Entrance” for day use. Then follow instructions on the page. Please note that it takes up to 24 hours for new camping reservations to be available for at-home printing.
Pack extra soap or hand sanitizer. Park restrooms have soap or hand sanitizer. However, due to increased use or at remote locations, soap or sanitizer may not always be available.
If you have been sick in the last two weeks, please stay at home for your health and the safety of others.
Additional information on best practices for keeping you and your family safe can be found online at the Texas Department of State Health Services.”
They go on to say that if you can’t make it then you can cancel your planned trip to the park and they will waive cancellation fees for visits in March.
Will everyone congregate to the parks?
There’s no way to know how busy the parks will become. Of course they’re going to continue to monitor the situation at the Texas State Parks, but that’s not to say that you might see an increased flow of traffic at your local, smaller, regional parks.
I won’t say it’s impossible, but the amount of people that would need to be in one spot for it to be an issue would need to be a lot.
What precautions should we take?
The thing is you should be doing every extra step that medical professionals have been saying so far. Clean your hands more extensively, don’t touch your face, don’t touch anyone else’s face, etc. etc.
Things you can do to make the park experience better is print out your confirmation letter for camping/hiking before you arrive. This will ensure that you’ll spend less time in the headquarters checking in.
Remember too, only buy what you need. People are hoarding toilet paper and other supplies that have very little to do with not getting sick, so please just grab what you need and leave some for everyone else.