Park Hosts, essential workers, challenged during pandemic

16

By Nanci Dixon
While our duties are far less heroic than the incredible nurses, doctors and first responders, we are considered essential workers in both Arizona and Minnesota.

We were Park Hosts for a county park in Arizona at the beginning of the pandemic. When the stay-at-home and social distancing orders were first issued the park was inundated with masses of people, literally thousands of people. So much so that the park became a popular do-not-do example on all the local Phoenix news channels. I kept watching to see if I could catch a glimpse of anyone I knew.

Soon, the park was forced to barricade the most popular trails, cancel group ramada reservations, limit parking to 50%, and close half of the restrooms. As restroom cleaners, that was a welcome relief.

The restrooms closed not only for distancing but because the soap and toilet paper were being stolen at a rate we could not keep up with.

As essential workers, we took appropriate precautions. We cordoned off areas when cleaning, changed gloves constantly, wore masks, sanitized everything we and others touched. I even sanitized the county trucks we drove before and after use.  As we had a close-knit group of park hosts, the most difficult was remembering to social distance.

Things stabilized within the state.

We were careful and we stayed healthy. We shopped during senior hours.

Come May 15th and the state started opening again, the people returned. No social distancing, no masks, and I braced myself for Memorial Day. When the state announced that stores, hair salons, restaurants and bars were opening I just knew that the pent up hoards would go shopping, not hiking.

I was right.

Now, in some Arizona areas, there is a 300% increase in cases. People in the Navajo Nation in assisted living and nursing homes are dying at alarming rates. The newscasts have made national, not just local, news.

Our return to Minnesota was a different trip than planned. No national parks, no Disney World, no sites unseen were visited. We ambled our way back by which states had opened the private, state and county parks.

The day we returned we got a call to ask if we could start our Camp Host gig early. Two couples weren’t coming back due to COVID-19.

So here we are! Few people with masks, no gloves, little to no social distancing. Life as if no COVID exists.

So please, for all of us, back up a bit, cough in your arm, wash your hands… and if you would be so kind, please wear a mask around us old folks. This is not a political comment or request. It is a human please-be-kind request.

On duty and trying to stay safe.

##RVT957

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Vanessa A Faukner
17 days ago

Great article! Thanks! My friend is a camphost on the Central Coast of Cali. We have been concerned for her safety. The campground is currently closed to the general public however it is being used to quarantine hospital workers and infected inmates. She surely did not sign up for this however she continues to do her job with pride and a can-do spirit!

P Oed
24 days ago

If you trust humans to do the right thing, you will be very disappointed.

Tom
24 days ago

Just wanted to say thanks for the great article.

John D Hackathorn
25 days ago

can any one tell me what state parks are open for travelers my wife and i have had it with people that do not care about any thing but them self

Diane Tricomi
24 days ago

Arizona State parks never closed , You just have to find one up in the mountains this time of year.
Fools Hollow Lake and Lyman Lake . are best this time of year.

NELSON SWIGER
24 days ago

I’m a park host for Texas State Parks and we are open. Just good luck finding an opening. Your best bet is during the week. Weekends usually full up.

Chuck Dunn
25 days ago

My Dear Bride and I have cancelled our normal winter to snowbird in AZ. Mostly due to Covid-19 but partly to the idiots who seem to think they are immune and don’t take the precautions we do. So we will stay mostly in our sticks and bricks fort, take lots of care when going out and hope for a mild winter. Take care.

squaredancer
25 days ago

We are currently park hosting in South Carolina. Fortunately, the toilet paper in our bathroom stalls is under lock and key! All facilities are open, and we’ve had little or no problem with our campers. We wear masks and gloves and have little contact with the campers. We do get together with the other park hosts and for the most part practice social distancing. Thanks for your comments, keep up the good work, and stay safe!

chris p hemstead
25 days ago

Stealing toilet paper. How cheap can you get?

Carl
25 days ago

So many clueless folks out there ☹️. Everyone please stay safe!

David B Allen
25 days ago

For the life of me (pun intended) I do not understand why mask are not ubiquitous. Staying healthy is not a political statement. Wearing a mask is not a political statement. Rather, it is a statement that I care about my neighbor, not because of political persuasion, but because from a scientific and humanitarian reasons, it is the right thing to do.

Eric Meslin
24 days ago
Reply to  David B Allen

I couldn’t agree more. When did being kind, caring, and respectful go out of fashion? Why do people think everything is about them?

Ran
25 days ago

Masks are Mandatory here in California in public places. Either Mask it, or Casket! Let’s all get together and stop the spread of this pandemic!

Tom
25 days ago
Reply to  Ran

Great motto, “Mask it or Casket.”

Tony Sauer
25 days ago

Very thoughtful article. You are so right, wearing a mask isn’t a political statement, it’s just common courtesy for those around us.

Robbie
25 days ago
Reply to  Tony Sauer

Common sense.