We realize that our last article was primarily about the benefits of getting outside — and what our legislators were doing to make the natural environment more appealing for younger generations. But that’s on hold. A dangerous pandemic has quickly raced across our world. A new coronavirus has infected over 100,000 Americans already, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has killed thousands.
These numbers don’t look so dire in comparison to the seasonal flu — which unfortunately is what the new virus is normally compared to — until you look at the data a few weeks out. We’re experiencing exponential growth, which is something the human mind has difficulty comprehending.
It works something like this.
Take this example: You’re in a car going from zero to 60 in ten seconds. It takes you five seconds to get to 20 mph. It takes you another 3 seconds to get to 40 mph. In the final two seconds, you reach 60 mph. Although you were accelerating the entire time, the rate of acceleration itself became faster. You were able to add more speed in less time as a result.
That is what this virus is doing. Although it might look like it’s moving slow to the laymen, we’re on pace to see thousands of deaths in America every day only a few weeks from now. We will eclipse annual deaths from the flu in no time at all.
Considering the danger to us all is escalating faster and faster, the question remains: Should you spend time outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak?
The answer depends on who you are and where you live. Those living in big cities might find it difficult to avoid hordes of people, whereas those living in rural areas won’t have any problem taking a walk around the block without seeing a soul. Some local and state governments are beginning to close down trailheads, but you’re free to go for a hike until they do.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) recently acknowledged that thru-hikers should consider abandoning the trail because of the sudden flood of new hikers who have become stir-crazy sitting around at home. Trail infrastructure like privies and shelters cannot be sanitized and could become tools to help spread the virus. They should be avoided.
Still, natural environments are a key part of good health. Get outdoors if possible. Remember: if you cross paths with other people, stay at least six feet apart. It might feel silly, but it could save your life — and the lives of the ones you love the most.