Monday, August 10, 2020


Moab, UT

77.3 F

    Moab officials plead ‘stay home’ after report says visiting national parks ‘may be’ safe

    Featured Stories

    Survey: Local parents want daily in-person teaching

    “I really don’t think that 40% of all people are not going to send their kid to school.”

    Tales of Trails: Savor spectacular views from thrilling Shafer Trail

    In the 1890s, Moab pioneer brothers Frank M. And John S. Shafer developed the route from what had been a Native American pathway connecting what is now Canyonlands National Park to the river below.

    At 99, Moab man is knighted by France

    “The French people will never forget his courage and devotion to the great cause of freedom,”

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 4: ‘A year in the land of eternal spring’

    Though I planned to return someday, whether as a Peace Corps volunteer or not, this experience proved that even the best-laid plans go awry.

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 3: Sudden departure came with painful goodbyes

    Men donned wooden masks and numerous layers of sweatshirts and ponchos then proceeded to hit each other with whips as they danced around the town square.
    Carter Pape
    Carter Pape
    Reporter Carter Pape covers news out of the Grand County Council Chambers, including housing, tourism, crime, and more.

    Official: ‘In the long run, nobody’ benefits from visiting Moab amid COVID-19 pandemic

    After The Salt Lake Tribune published a story headlined “With coronavirus travel limits, Utah’s national parks may be your best — and safest — bet for a getaway,” Moab officials said that locals are at risk as visitors flooded the county — against presidential guidelines to avoid “nonessential travel” — seeking social distancing in the great outdoors at Arches and Canyonlands, only to return to hotels, restaurants, bars and shops serviced by the local workforce.

    Note: Soon after the publication of this story, the Southeast Utah Health Department announced that all Moab lodging businesses must stop accepting new reservations from people who do not work in Grand, Emery or Carbon in an effort to preempt any overwhelming of the local healthcare system.

    Grand County Administrator Chris Baird did not mince words on what he thought travelers needed to do amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is spreading a novel coronavirus disease across the United States and world.

    “Everyone should stay home all across the U.S.,” Baird said. “No exceptions.”

    When asked who benefits from people visiting Moab, Arches and Canyonlands amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Baird said, “In the long run, nobody.” When asked who was hurt or potentially hurt, Baird said “Many people who live in Grand County, and who visit here are at extreme risk.”

    Moab Regional Hospital CEO Jen Sadoff shared a similar sentiment and said the negative economic impact to Moab of decreased visitation was inevitable, given the spread of and danger posed by the viral disease.

    “We believe the economy will come to a halt regardless of taking action now versus later,” Sadoff said. “We hope that by making the action now, it will flatten the curve and save lives, and hopefully lead to an economic recovery sooner. Our hearts are with all people around the globe faced with no-win decisions during this difficult time.”

    In a March 16 letter to Gov. Gary Herbert regarding the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital’s leadership team had a straightforward message: “Please. Do. More. Now.”

    “We applaud the measures taken thus far in limiting mass gatherings to no more than 100 people and in closing schools,” the letter from the hospital reads. “Most projections place the United States roughly two weeks behind Italy in terms of projected surge. To avoid the same fate of the number of patients exceeding the capacity of healthcare, we need to do more NOW.”

    The Times-Independent asked Elaine Gizler, executive director of the Moab Area Travel Council, whether people should visit Moab amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gizler declined to answer the question and said that the travel council was providing guidance to people calling in with questions about visiting Moab.

    Gizler said that she was informing people they needed to follow federal, state and local guidelines, including by avoiding “discretionary travel,” and groups of 10 or more people.

    The Salt Lake Tribune featured Springdale Mayor Stan Smith in its March 13 report about visiting Utah’s national parks. Smith said to The Tribune the day after President Donald Trump announced restrictions on travel to the United States from many European nations, “I’m telling everybody: ‘Don’t panic.’” Smith also said that Sprindagle hotels’ occupancy rates had increased in the time after the president’s Wednesday night address regarding COVID-19.

    The Times-Independent asked Smith whether public health and economic data suggested that Springdale should be asking people to stay away or inviting them to spend their vacation there. Smith declined to answer the question and said that visitors should “seek the expert advice” of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and southwest Utah’s health department.

    The advice from both of those agencies is to follow presidential guidelines by avoiding “nonessential travel.”

    “Moab’s situation is different than Springdale’s because of the infrastructure in the different counties,” Smith said. “[Moab’s] local health department would be best to guide [the city] with [its] decisions.”

    The recommendation from the Southeast Utah Health Department, which oversees public health in Moab and across the southeastern part of the state, is also to stay home and avoid nonessential travel, according to a statement from the department released Monday, March 16.

    Share this!

    - Advertisement -

    Latest News

    County: No avoiding tax hike — even during a pandemic

    Were the property tax increase to be rescinded, he said Grand County “would literally be totally broke.”

    USFS proposes campground fee increases

    Members of the public are invited to comment on the proposed fee changes to the developed recreation program.

    Pine Gulch burns north of Grand Junction

    Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Maribeth Pecotte said the fire continued to grow in Sunday’s hot and dry conditions, which are expected to persist through the first half of the week.

    Zion rangers looking for vandals; squares painted on stone

    While most of the paint was removed, the area still has some paint remaining on the sandstone

    BLM lifts fire bans in Tres Rios, Uncompahgre field office areas

    “The BLM areas near the City of Durango are ‘Day Use Only,’ and overnight camping and campfires are prohibited to reduce fire risk."