There have been a lot of discussions surrounding how to behave socially during the Covid 19 pandemic, yet a lot of the basic precautions are being ignored, and certain actions are affecting smaller communities across the globe. While we all should be self-quarantining, socially isolating, and staying at home over the foreseeable future, more importantly, we need to acknowledge that this pandemic is not a vacation.
Now, this is not going to be a whole op-ed piece, just an announcement, citing two key sources, the New York Times and our friends at Indigenous Women Hike, both responding to the climbing community, not the cycling community, but it doesn’t take a genius to make the connection. Places all over high-density areas are experiencing spikes in outdoor recreation. Los Angeles’ Angeles National Forest had gridlock conditions over the weekend at various picnic locations. Point Reyes National Seashore in the Bay Area also experienced spikes in attendance. Social media sleuthing shows that many people are ignoring the 6′ distancing rule. There’s no reason a person couldn’t walk, hike, or ride a bike during these times, but you must avoid groups and maintain a safe distance of at least 6′ when doing so.
The New York Times looks at this mindset’s effects in a recent article:
“People were like, ‘Social distancing? I’m going to Bishop. Can’t get any more distant than that,’” said Jeff Deikis, a resident and climber.
Although the risks of climbing are primarily associated with the heights and terrain, adventurers jammed the coffee shops and the brewery in Bishop. Driving four hours from Los Angeles and six hours from San Francisco, packs of climbers scaled the nearby boulders and canyons, sharing fresh air and, perhaps, infectious disease.
“Climbers from around the country have descended upon Bishop as though a global pandemic were some sort of hall pass from responsibility and magnanimity,”
This ego-centric approach has weighed heavily on the community in Owens Valley and Bishop.
Just days before the New York Tims piece, Jolie at Indigenous Women Hike penned this plead to the people considering “vacationing” in Bishop, California.
I know that there are work closures and school closures because of covid-19. Please don’t think of this as vacation time. Please don’t come to Payahuunadü(Owens Valley)and expose our vulnerable communities when we have limited resources and limited access to hospital services. Mammoth Mountain ski resort has closed but people are still coming to recreate. I’ve also gotten word that even though the women’s climbing festival was postponed that a lot of people will still be coming to climb in Payahuunadü. CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE. I encourage people to stay home. I do not want to induce panic but I am thinking of the well-being of my community—our elders and those who are immunocompromised.
We also have very few stores here. Consider that when you come here and head to the store you can be taking food and supplies out of the homes of us who live here. ALL of the stores we have here are out of TP and cleaning supplies.
Our homelands are not your playgrounds or places for you to escape during this crisis. Understand that this privileged way of thinking can put our elders and vulnerable loved ones at risk. As an aunty of babies who are vulnerable and as someone who is deeply concerned for the health of our culture bearers(our elders) I urge you to think of the health of our community.
The Inyo County Sheriff’s response is being echoed by many small towns across the country, PLEASE GO HOME!
Now, we all know the rules, but here they are again:
-Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
-Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
-Avoid close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell
-Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell
Please, be diligent! If you ride, ride by yourself, or with one other person. Keep a safe distance from that person.