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.