Coronavirus Culture Shock While Traveling

Filed Under: Travel

Ford and I have been on our current trip for a few days now, and it has really surprised us. We are doing a road trip (after flying to Las Vegas), enjoying the great outdoors, and we’re driving through Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. The scenery has been nothing short of breathtaking.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona

Going in, we assumed that the most unnerving part of the trip would be the flight. Oh, how wrong we were…

Coronavirus precautions we’re used to in Miami

It goes without saying that Florida is a coronavirus hotspot, though overall we feel like we have a lot of control over our situation, and when we do go out, we feel safe:

  • We occasionally go to restaurants, primarily where we can dine outside, and it has always at least seemed like proper protocols were being followed
  • For the appointments I do have (doctors, dentists, etc.), extreme precautions have been taken
  • The building we live in is very strict in terms of requiring everyone (both residents and staff) to wear masks at all times in public areas

The point is, in Miami I feel like a lot of people at least recognize coronavirus is a thing, and are trying, as is probably the case in most major cities. At least most reasonable people are. I also hear of people going to house parties with dozens of people, going to night clubs (how are they open?!?), etc., and I just shake my head.

I also want to acknowledge that with a spike in cases we’re going to be doing less going out when we return to Florida, and likely go back to near full quarantine, as we were for a long time…

I feel like we landed on a different planet

We have been in disbelief ever since we landed in Las Vegas — for this entire trip it has almost felt like coronavirus isn’t a thing. I don’t even know where to begin, but it has been so confusing.

My primary issue isn’t even individuals choosing not to wear masks in situations where physical distancing isn’t possible. But it has been jarring to see, as face mask usage has been almost non-existent:

  • At Las Vegas Airport maybe a few percent of people were wearing masks, while the rest weren’t
  • We’ve been in Springdale, Utah, and Page, Arizona, and again, almost no one was wearing a mask, even in crowded areas
  • In Page, Arizona, specifically, I saw more people wearing political hats than masks
  • At a restaurant in Page people laughed and pointed at us; who knows if that was because we were wearing masks, or because we’re gay?
  • In the lobby of the Hyatt Place Page a big family ordered four pizzas, and they ate them all barefoot in the lobby, sometimes placing individual slices directly on tables, and there was no hand washing (I realize being barefoot won’t give them coronavirus, but I wanted to set the scene)
  • Apparently wearing a mask is so exceptional that one lady rolled down her car window and yelled “good for you guys for wearing those, no one does that around here”

When in Page…

To be clear, I’m not talking about people in national parks. It’s typically possible to physical distance there. Rather I’m talking about situations where physical distancing wasn’t possible while in town, in hotels, in restaurants, etc.

The real disappointment: businesses

Ultimately people have free will, and if they choose not to wear masks in areas where it’s not legally required, then I guess I can’t blame them. What really disappointed me, though, was how businesses failed when it came to protecting customers.

I’ve already written about my disappointment with all three hotels we stayed at, where face mask usage wasn’t consistent, even though this is something that brands promise.

If a Hilton, Hyatt, or Marriott can’t deliver on consistency I guess I shouldn’t expect anything from small businesses either, but they were even more disappointing.

When we were in Springdale, Utah, we needed to rent some hiking gear for Zion National Park. Zion Guru is apparently the most popular place in town to rent equipment. They have a small store, and it gets packed, given how many people are planning trips outdoors right now. The employees there also get really close to you, as they help you try on shoes, check the height of hiking sticks, etc.

Well, not a single employee was wearing a mask (and no customers were either, other than us). I just don’t understand. These people are inches apart from tourists, and they don’t have any sort of protective equipment.

Hiking down the river in Zion National Park

In Moab, Utah, we booked a UTV tour with Ultimate UTV Adventures. When we arrived at the office and walked in, the first thing the guy said to me is “we don’t allow those masks around here.” Nice.

UTV tour to Hell’s Revenge, Utah

During parts of our trip we’ve even seen restaurant servers not wearing masks, including in Page, Arizona.

My takeaway from all of this

Part of having spent several months at home is not having had much firsthand knowledge about how coronavirus is viewed in other parts of the country. We know what the media shows us, but that’s it.

In the end I’ve felt less safe getting hiking gear for a national park than I did on a flight with 150 strangers. What does this mean for my desire for future travel?

First of all, while we’re having an amazing time (more on the incredible things we’ve seen shortly), we both can’t wait to get back home into our environment where we’re comfortable and can take the precautions we think are appropriate.

I figured that a trip focused on the outdoors would be one of the safest bets right now and would make me feel most at ease, but in some ways the opposite has been true. Of course if you’re able to completely avoid stores, restaurants, gas stations, and hotels, you’re probably fine. But in our case we stayed at hotels, had to rent hiking equipment, had to go into gas stations to buy water, etc.

In retrospect, personally I’d feel more comfortable traveling to a city like Los Angeles than a small town where no precautions are taken.

What a weird experience this has all been…

Comments
  1. Welcome to the West Ben. It’s a bit strange and unsettling to take in. As someone who travels from Austin and rural Colorado it’s night and day between the two, and one definitely has to be a little careful when taking proper precautions like wearing masks around the west. Evolution in the works if you ask me.

  2. My brother lives in Dublin, Ireland and just came back to the US for vacation for a few weeks. He says that there nobody wears masks, anywhere, and hasn’t. He wore it on the Aer Lingus flight from dublin to Boston, but other than that he sees very little mask usage in Dublin. We are on Nantucket and theres usage here in the stores and when you walk into restaurants. I feel much more at ease here than you do. Miami seems like a different case than elsewhere in Florida. My cousins were just near Panama City on the gulf coast and said that nobody anywhere had masks on. Crazy times. Safe travels.

  3. I don’t understand… you travel from an area that you said is a hot spot… to an area where everything is “normal” (in your own words). Yet, you are complaining about this as if the people in the area that you are traveling to are in the wrong?

    I must be missing something, because there is no way a grown man could be saying this…

    Also, if you are so concerned about the cooties, like it appears, then why the hell are you not staying home in your own apartment?

  4. @lucky

    ” the first thing the guy said to me is “we don’t allow those masks around here.” Nice.” –> So what did you do? Was he being sarcastic, did you just leave or did you take off your masks?

  5. You definitely set the scene with the pizza party in the Hyatt Place lobby!

    People in communities where few precautions were taken may have been protected in the short term if there were no cases locally as travel was limited. As people start traveling again, they will certainly see imported cases but will be ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak.

  6. “Political hats” – So you are saying everyone was wearing Joe Biden hats? 😉

  7. you don’t see people wearing masks because the ones sensible enough to wear masks aren’t going to touristy places right now. if you’re in a touristy area you’re likely surrounded by morons who aren’t taking the pandemic seriously.

  8. Honestly, you may be more comfortable visiting Boston, New York, DC, etc very soon. Come up here to NYC in about a month, restaurants will be open for dine-in at 50% capacity most likely, you will see good mask compliance, etc. In August the museums may reopen.

  9. Simple, you’re in Trump country. Even in Phoenix, a big city, mask wearing wasn’t widespread until a few weeks ago and varies dramatically from neighborhood to neighborhood. No leadership at the national and state level. This is what happens.

  10. Ben, I’m honestly shocked that you would be shocked by what you see. I have friends down at Miami so I do hear more people wear masks there but just travel an hour to the gulf side, like Tampa or Clearwater. It’s as if Covid doesn’t even exist there.

  11. Even in a city like San Diego, it’s a tale of two cities. Asian establishments and people take the pandemic very seriously, while everywhere else ranges from ok to non-existent.

  12. @david – I think that’s exactly the point. Conscious people like Ben want to get back out into the world the “right” way. Right now the free market is definitely failing by creating negative externalities on the rest of us, as they cater to ignorant yahoos who will spread the virus as they travel (and back home). Our decentralized regulatory system and non-compliant populace make us ill-equipped to handle this pandemic.

    Public-facing businesses shouldn’t be allowed to operate right now without legally enforceable mandates on staff and customers, period. No one’s forcing anyone to travel or recreate in close quarters with other members of the public, nor is there an inherent right to do so. Those who are doing so apparently cannot be trusted to do the right thing, which is where laws should come in. That would promote more thoughtful travel, slow the spread, and allow the economy to open more fully. The current anarchy will undoubtedly lead to prolonged personal and economic pain.

    “Personal responsibility” has been an utter failure.

  13. Nevada certainly is not Trump country. Very strong Democratic Party majority in both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office. Probably due to large numbers of low paid employees in Las Vegas.

  14. There is a massive divide in America not only in politics, but between metropolitan lifestyle and rural lifestyle. The president has made this even more of a wedge issue. Rural areas have had low cases thus far, which will change. Sadly, they often don’t have the healthcare infrastructure to support the impending increased demands. I predict rural casualty rates as a percentage of population density will be drastically higher.

  15. the people who take coronavirus seriously… are generally staying home… because cases are spiking again as we continue to RIDE THE FIRST WAVE!

  16. @Lucky,

    This is a ridiculous post. There are ~150 covid deaths in the entire state of Utah, not far off from the number of statewide homicides. Approx 500ish covid deaths in Nevada. These people are rational enough to not give into the fear and hysteria being propagated by the press on a continuous basis. If you’re not comfortable being around people who disregard social distancing and masks, you should probably just have stayed home. This isn’t just an American thing either. People all over the world have realized that the risks of covid have been dramatically overstated. You’ll realize this eventually I guess.

  17. I had thrown a speculative trip in September to the desert southwest on the calendar a couple of months ago (booked with points). The numbers spiking in AZ were already making me lean to cancelling and your update only reinforces that. Oh well, happy to save the money I’d spend while on the ground. Still got a speculative booking to Europe in November so we will see how that goes.

  18. But by giving those businesses your money, you are enabling their silly behavior.

    The UTV guy apparently mocked you, a paying customer, for wearing a mask. Yet you didn’t walk away at that point. You stayed and gave him your money, telling him it’s okay to keep doing that. Tourism businesses in the West are hanging by a thread. That guy badly needed your money. You should’ve taken the opportunity to stand up for yourself, rather than be laughed at by the business you are keeping alive.

    Do you and Ford do the same thing when a business owner laughs at you for being a gay couple? Do you ever stand up for yourselves?

  19. Seeing the food they serve in Page, i now understand why you travel so much. Seems like every other country has better food offerings 😀

    In other news: Lot’s of restaurants in Germany here, where no waiter carries a mask. So no U.S West only-thing.

  20. Welcome to the real world. When you leave the coasts and liberal dominated cities you will find that most people never bought into the COVID-19 hype. We just went on about our lives, ignoring the fear mongering from the media as we always do. We didn’t stay home. We washed our hands like we always have, like we were taught as children. We shake hands a lot around here and that never stopped. We have a rule that a lot of us live by here and it has served us well. If the media tells us to be scared or panic, we know there’s nothing to worry about. If the media tells us there’s nothing to worry about, we know we need pay attention. How many of the media’s doomsday predictions have been even remotely close to accurate? Using your home state, I remember seeing your great governor talking about the prediction of 465,000 hospitalizations and the reality (at that time) was about 2000. The media said there would be a big outbreak when Jacksonville opened the beaches. Didn’t happen. I could list hundreds of examples. Facts matter. Like the fact is that there is no actual evidence that masks do any good. Fact is most people don’t like wearing them. Fact is that if you’re in good health you have nothing to worry about. Fact is as of Memorial Day 36 states had less COVID-19 related deaths than deaths caused by the common flu during the 2018/19 flu season. Personally I’ve enjoyed traveling the last few months. I’m enjoying the extra space on the flights, the shorter lines and smaller crowds. I’ve visited my 75+ year old parents in Florida twice and haven’t been at all concerned. I consulted my sister who is an ER radiologist before each visit and she had no concerns. Keep calm. Wash your hands. Don’t visit nursing homes. Turn off the news. Enjoy life.

  21. That was us laughing at you at Big John’s TX BBQ. We just thought it was funny how you were supposed to go to Iceland but ended up eating with us here in Page.

  22. This was what I most wanted to hear about your trip report. What’s it like when you get where you’re going? I so much want to travel after staying home since February. And now I’m starting to feel like I could get on a plane or train without putting my life in danger. But, when I get to my destination, will there be things to see and do? And will I feel as safe there as I do in virus-ravished Massachusetts? I am so sad to hear about the head-in-sand attitudes you’re finding. I’ll be putting off travel for a while longer. Right now I’d rather visit saner countries like Japan or Taiwan, but they won’t let us dangerous Americans in. I don’t blame them.

  23. I am American living in Berlin and in the German Capital it’s business as usual albeit with masks on in stores, dining areas, public transport…etc. I flew to Zurich, CH on Wednesday and nobody was wearing masks and other than plastic partitions between the cashier and customer and signs that do say social distancing, it was business as usual. Switzerland has done reasonably well in battling the virus, I don’t think of it as a shock in the fact that you live in Miami (a city) vs Paige, AZ (small town).

  24. I had a very similar experience just doing a day trip. We live in Washington DC and took a hike near Annapolis. We went to Annapolis for dinner and we’re shocked at how crowded the downtown was and how few people were wearing masks. Much different than in DC.

  25. @ Ben — Well, I guess no one should be surprised that Arizona is seeing a massive spike in COID-19 cases. What does it take to make this real to people? Pictures of people dying in the parking lot of a hospital because there are no beds left?

    Of course , you don’t see the people who have enough sense to stay home, so it is difficult to judge how many idiots there are exactly. I just hope that those staying home have the courage to vote the Idiot in Chief out of office in November.

  26. sounds great, to bad we can’t come to Vegas yet. Indoor when you cannot keep some distance it can make sense to wear a mask. outside it’s of no use at all. and the laughing was because of the masks you’r wearing 🙂

  27. Coastal elite here, from *extremely* left wing Portland.
    I’d say half of people wear masks, and it’s dropping each week. Even in the airport, less and less people do it.

    Personally, I think it’s pretty reasonable based on the science now.
    The virus is about 2-3x as deadly as the flu. So, you have a 99.7% of survival instead of 99.9%

    I think each day more people realize – even in this hipster city – that, life is too short to be scared of everything, and everyone. 2 weeks… ok. 1 month… hmmm.. 3, almost 4 months now?

    Nah, it’s not a worthy trade off to give up on life and just watch others go about their day.

    *****
    I would add this, in kindness, but also some level of irony to your comment about people looking at you strangely because, you surmised, you are a gay couple:

    Put the shoe on the other foot, take a walk in their shoes:

    Sometimes people aren’t like YOU. Sometimes they have different values than YOU.
    Perhaps instead of casting judgement on how OTHER PEOPLE chose to live their, you practice accepting all people, just like you expect anyone else to accept you.

    It’s a two way street dude. If you want acceptance everywhere, it’s important to accept everyone everywhere.


    Enjoy your trip, I’ve been seeing the US a lot in the last few months, and it’s really breathtaking.

    Off to Europe next month to do a lot of international things, but, I’ve really enjoyed seeing more of my own country.

    It’s lovely out there, and so are the people when you get to know them instead of judging them because they’re different than you…

  28. It’s unfortunate but masks & Covid in general has become 100% politicized. Out country is going to pay a tragic toll for this. Any sporting goods/ outfitter stores I walk into it’s like no virus ever happened.

  29. I was in Tennessee last week. Apparently masks are not required. It was pretty damn nice. Flew through ORD yesterday. About 50/50 those wearing masks vs. those who didn’t in the terminal. It was fine by me. I only put one on when boarding.

  30. COVID 19 is a statistical nothing burger for people under 65. From 65 up it starts to be similar to a flu culminating in being very deadly for the elderly with other conditions.

    Why are you such a science denying whiner?

    All things must end. When I first learned about miles, your blog was super valuable. As your success and wealth has increased this blog has turned into a quasi political platform – though generally with a calm tone that which is nice. However, your value add to society is travel, not politics. Your political knowledge is not very insightful and since your travel insights are becoming increasingly few and far between it time to thank you for many tips and wish you luck. Though for everyone’s sake hopefully your political ideals will never materialize or we will all be living in a progressive paradise – China, Cuba, Venezuela, CHAZ…..

  31. Ben,

    A couple of observations of my own traveling during the pandemic (March-June)-

    Delta: I flew them on the following routes:

    March:

    (LGA-MIA, MIA-JFK, LGA-PBI) Normal with the exception of LGA-PBI at the end of March. Flight was empty and service was limited to snack boxes “flight fuel” and bottled water. No hand sanitizers provided. Flight was empty. They even encouraged me and my gf to sit apart.

    April:
    (PBI-ATL-LAX) Same as above but this time a similar goodie bag as AA.
    (LAX-JFK) Same as above (Delta one. No meal service. No drinks besides water)

    May:
    (JFK-SLC) Same as above. I was the only person cleared on the upgrade list (#1 spot)
    (SLC-SNA) More social distancing (A220)- No upgrades honored.

    Rental Cars:

    March/April
    Hertz PBI: One customer at a time- Not allowed in without mask.
    Avis PBI: Self service more or less but no-where near as strict as Hertz

    April- June:
    Hertz LAX: Car assigned to you upon arrival- all cars in lot have a safety seal on the door- if it’s broken- they said to let them know and they can switch the car.

    Hotels:

    March/April:

    Marriott PBI: Zero F’s given. Pool open, No mask worn, No social distancing. Guest appeared to be construction workers.

    Courtyard PBI: Polar opposite. No amenities. One guest at a time in the lobby. Strict enforcement.

    Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay: A leading example. Hand Sanitizer stations everywhere- elevators were strictly regulated. Dining was outside only- and take away to your room. Limited seating inside, exceptions made for couples/families staying in the same room.

    Las Vegas: Don’t even get me started. Pointless temperature checks (only when checking in as a guest but not to entire the property). ZERO mask worn by people in the freaking elevator- no regulation of the elevator whatsoever. Pool parties open (with limited capacity).

    I haven’t flown other airlines so i don’t have any data points on them but it appears from your post AA is doing more food and beverage offerings than Delta. I’m not sure if I agree with what AA is doing based on what you reported.

    I hope this helps.

  32. I’m having hard time grasping why so many people are so stubborn about wearing masks, especially in places where it’s either mandated or recommended by the government. Regardless of your personal opinion about their effectiveness, it seems like a very small price to pay for a) not pi**ing off those around you and b) possibly/probably limiting the spread of covid-19. I live in Sweden, where the government simply refuses to recommend masks, despite Sweden being one of the worst hit countries in terms of deaths per capita. I have quite a few masks at home (and use them when needed) but I don’t think I’ve seen more than one or two other persons wearing masks in total during the pandemic. I’ve even been to the doctor’s office twice and even the doctors are mask-less. So strange. My fiancée and I take extreme precautions and spend most of our days outdoors in sparsly populated areas (and working from home), but everyone else around here – including doctors – acts as if covid didn’t exist.

  33. Ben, I had the same reaction when I traveled to the Carolinas to visit family.

    After three months of no travel, ten days ago I left the bubble of Brooklyn, where pretty much everyone wears a mask on the street and always inside a business, and flew from JFK (100% masks in the airport) to CLT (50%) to GSP (not many masks). While out running errands in SC I noticed pretty much no masks, except in Publix and Lowes, because of company rules. Three days later, back in NYC, I felt safer than in the Carolinas, where I grew up. Will really need to think hard about flying south again any time soon.

    Sadly for the health and economic livelihoods of all the people of the US, it appears that a high percentage of Sunbelt residents don’t yet believe in the virus or the preventative benefit of face coverings.

    The now often quoted Erin Bromage sums up the problem pretty well: “Masks should not be a political issue. They are a public health issue.” But in the US they are. And so our health and economy and confidence in traveling freely and safely suffers.

  34. Ben,

    I think you need to admit (at least to yourself) just how soft and sheltered your life is. This is despite the veneer of being a rugged world traveler who can put up with anything. You just want to be pampered and be waited on in luxurious settings, which is ok if you are honest that that is what you are seeking. Perhaps you should read some of the old school world travelers from 100+ years ago that had to risk polio, malaria, yellow fever, any common infection, the real risk of your ship sinking, and on and on. Just for a different perspective.

  35. AZ is pretty messed up. No surprise cases have gone from 400-600 to over 3,000 once everything opened up.

    And no, it isn’t just over 65 crowd. 12% of those in the ICU are in the 30-44 age range. There was a healthy 30 year old who said he had never been so sick and had to be hospitalized. He said he was stupid for believing it was nothing. Took him weeks to recover.

    AZ is slowly changing but have a lot of nuts and education is pretty low. Also a lot of leave me along attitude. Of course once something goes wrong then they want a handout.

    Politically Page is pretty diverse.

  36. It’s so sad and frustrating to hear both Moab and Springdale aren’t encouraging masks. Here in Utah we have seen record numbers of positive COVID19 results over the past couple weeks yet it’s still not a priority.

  37. Ben, if you don’t feel comfortabke you should probably just stay home, and let people go on with their lives.

  38. Well, if you feel unsafe, then stay at home. Naturally most people who are out are the ones who feel comfortable accepting a certain risk level. Businesses adapt. There’s no point catering to scared people who probably wouldn’t travel anyway.

    If Nevada shocked you, I highly recommend you to not take that trip to Iceland, or anywhere in Europe for that matter. I’ve been travelling around central Europe over last couple of weeks and I was happy to see it’s almost back to the old normal. Masks are still occasionally worn but even that requirement is being progressively withdrawn. In Nordics, including Iceland, masks have never been a thing.

  39. @Jason

    People do wear masks here but not everyone. COVID-19 is gone from the community here, all cases are in hospitals, nursing homes or meat packing plants.

    Bars and restaurants are still shut, schools shut, churches shut, anyone entering the country has to isolate for two weeks. Shops are one in, one out, public transport is for essential workers only and until recently the police checked for an employers letter on inter-city trains.

    All that is to say you can go out and be very confident of not getting it. America appears the complete opposite. People here are looking on in amazement at what’s going on there and in Brazil.

  40. As long as you have selfish idiots like @Mike (June 21, 2020 at 1:18 pm), who claim to promote facts but say silly things like “fact is that there is no actual evidence that masks do any good” and “fact is that if you’re in good health you have nothing to worry about,” this country will not recover and will continue to be the laughing stock of the world.

  41. Just a simple note: Record number of positive Covid cases doesn’t necessarily mean the virus is on the increase. The ‘record number’ of positives can be (and often is) a result of more testing. The media, especially here in Texas, has been touting the record number of cases while ignoring that testing is increasing at the same rate or faster than the number of cases. If the percentage of tests and positives are increasing at the same rate, the curve is flat. If the rate of testing is increasing faster than the rate of positive tests, then the curve is on the decline. It’s simple math, but the news outlets here are ignoring the rate of testing because positive news doesn’t sell. Fear does. Plus, deaths from Covid are definitely on the decrease here, while they are touting the ‘record numbers’ of new cases. For anyone that understands statistics, you’ll understand what I’m saying. I can’t speak for other areas of the country… but I know the media here is not being as honest as they could be.. or should be. (I posted this because some posters here are citing the ‘record number of cases’.

  42. I’m not convinced it is a political thing. I think it is anti-science bias here in the US that many people don’t believe covid-19 is dangerous until one of their friends or family members get infected. I remembered not so many people in NYC were willing to put on a face mask at first. Now they are doing just fine. I believe people will eventually wear a mask when more people die even in red states.
    I was experiencing the same culture shock when I came from an Asian country to the US in early March.

  43. @Ben Wallace, thanks for opening my eyes with your political insights on China, Cuba, Venezuela, CHAZ…..

    To all the COVID deniers here, I won’t be surprised to find out none of you personally know someone who was diagnosed with it or someone who was lucky enough to have a mild form. So let me make a futile attempt to address your ignorance. My healthy wife in her 30s was admitted to ER within a week of diagnosis. I was lucky enough to have mild symptoms and yet took me 2 weeks to recover. My wife recovered after 6 weeks. The science and media are very clear – this is not flu, in fact its unlike any other disease and being from “third world” country, we have had our fair share of Malaria, Cholera, Diarrhea, Dengue, Jaundice etc. so if you want to trust that orange colored man baby sure, but please don’t open your ignorant mouth and prove your stupidness to the world.

  44. mask is the only thing that protects you while you are out door. By wearing a mask, it protects not only yourself, but also others. It’s really sad to see people say “oh, I’m not used to wearing a mask, so I don’t have to” “US is a free Country, I can do whatever I want”. Trump said we have the most cases, because we did the most testing, China must be lying about their numbers. Take a look at our own behaviour while judging others. It’s not hard to explain why the US has the most cases in the world.

  45. I’m shocked at how much misinformation there is even in this comment section (which you would assume is more educated and wealthier). COVID is dangerous and people have died. Masks and social distancing have worked. It may not save you but it may save your parents. To go about otherwise is selfish and irresponsible.

  46. Covidoits.
    Make Covid Great Again.

    Forget about 2nd wave or flattening the curve, these people prefer extinction than give up freedom and liberties.

  47. I’m a little shocked and saddened by the amount of people who refuse to think critically and trivialize this virus. The US will pay a terrible price, sadly.

  48. @TY-

    It’s interesting to me when someone says people who don’t wear masks are ‘anti-science’.

    I would argue, we are the ‘pro-science’ side.
    The IFR of Covid-19 is around .15% – .34% (source: CDC, Stanford, UBonn studies)
    The IFR of the ‘flue’ is around .13%

    So, if someone is ‘pro-science’ they would say ‘Wow that’s a pretty small difference between the two virus. Either one, I am 99.6%+ like to survive. We don’t stop the world for the flu, so, I’m going to live my life’

    It’s the ‘anti-science’ people who are not looking at the data and STILL pounding on their keyboards ‘It’s the worst virus in the world, it will kill your grandma and kids and everyone you know… Stop the world, please!!’

    The reason more and more people don’t wear masks – is the SCIENCE says this is not a virus much different than the annual winter flu. Is it worse? Yup. Is it worse than most other risks in life? Most people think no.

    If you want to continue to lock yourself indoors, or be like Gene, and just mock people who don’t share your morals/actions. Fine..

    But, it’s disingenuous to say claim you are ‘pro-science’ when you are, clearly, ignoring the science anymore.

  49. @Samo – the US and Europe had similar daily infection rates ~2 months ago.

    Europe – now down to about 4K/day
    US – just hit 30K yesterday (and rising)

    There is a difference…

    And FWIW ~90% of the anti-science crowd is on one side of the political aisle, so it is ultimately political

  50. I’ve traveled to Gatlinburg, TN and Myrtle Beach, SC this month. People were not wearing masks or following social distance guidelines in either place. Most disturbingly, they were packing into elevators with no masks. I said “no thanks”.

  51. Just remind those without a mask that you’re looking forward to their “I can’t breathe” tweets from the ICU. In the meantime, just pity them and go on your merry way. Nothing you can do to change their (unwavering) minds.

  52. There are so many “medical doctors” and “infectious disease specialists” on the internet and this comment section giving out bad advice. Masks work in cutting down transmission, ignoring this infection is truly playing Russian roulette with your life. Look at the USA numbers compared to universal mask wearing Japan, for instance. We had 30000 new cases yesterday! Japan has 17000 cases total! Yes it’s just science, not low information personal opinion, masks prevent transmission. The freedumb, anti authority, anti science crowd in the US is infuriating and reckless. Non coastal America is full of wingnuts, conspiracy tards, and right wing psychopaths who give less than 2 turds about your safety and well being. Americans have become literally the most pathologically, mentally ill populous on the planet right now and Nature is now going to teach us a lesson in humility. I am doing zero travel until this storm passes, mainly because you can’t trust half of the population of the country to display any sense whatsoever.

  53. “If the percentage of tests and positives are increasing at the same rate, the curve is flat. If the rate of testing is increasing faster than the rate of positive tests, then the curve is on the decline. … Plus, deaths from Covid are definitely on the decrease here [in TX]”

    OK, that all makes sense – but ask yourself *why* cases are declining? That doesn’t happen on its own, at least not until enough people have gotten it that herd immunity kicks in. Most likely, it’s because of whatever measures have been taken to slow its spread – closing schools, many people working at home, social distancing and mask wearing. Even if only some people follow these precautions, that will slow the spread.

    But it could be slowed even more. The more people who follow the precautions, the more the death rate will decline. That is why the politicization of mask wearing is so unfortunate. The attitude that “if you’re young and healthy, you’ll be OK” ignores that fact that many people are not young, and many people younger than 65 have diabetes and/or are obese. These are our fellow human beings. It is just sad that so many people simply do not see how selfish their choices are. There are such simple ways to minimize contagion while still going about our lives productively, but apparently individual convenience is more important than pulling through together.

    Let’s say some nation attacked us, and every American were called on to participate in the response. In the 1940s, everyone came through for the war effort. I really wonder if the same would happen today.

  54. @George: “We don’t stop the world for the flu, so, I’m going to live my life’”

    It’s not a question of stopping the world. It’s a question of taking a few simple precautions to minimize contagion.

    Wearing masks when around others is not stopping the world.

    Staying 6 feet away from others whenever you can is not stopping the world.

    Washing your hands more often and sanitizing them more frequently is not stopping the world.

  55. The type of mask that Lucky and his husband wearing is totally useless in an airplane.

    Apparently he doesn’t have that knowledge.
    In an airplane, only circle/sealed N95 mask would work. Other types of mask have too many openings and can’t resist coronavirus at all.

    MIA to PHX is a long flight, and they didn’t change their masks. That’s really stupid.
    In Asia, medical experts suggest that people should change their masks if they stay indoors (not at home) for more than 4 hours.

    Lucky watched too many political news and didn’t read creditable articles from real medical experts.

  56. Glad you’re having a good trip. Yes, it is sad that so many folks refuse to wear masks, even though they’re the most cost effective way to save lives.

    That being said, you shouldn’t be so paranoid about your personal safety. People your age are 5x more likely to die from COVID than flu, but your flu risk is so negligible that your COVID risk is negligible. You’re way more likely to be killed in a car accident. Just live and enjoy being young 🙂

    On the other hand, you should take stringent precautions before visiting your parents, who are 20x more likely to die from COVID than flu. This is scary because their age group already has non-negligible flu risk.

    https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Provisional-COVID-19-Death-Counts-by-Sex-Age-and-S/9bhg-hcku

  57. I am planning to visit my friend in rural Pennsylvania end of this week and live near D.C. We are definitely doing better with cases than two weeks ago and the entire area is on the decline while it is not gone yet by any means. I pose more risk to them than they pose to me. Sense it matters more if the potentially sick person wears the mask that means I have the control over it by wearing a mask. Most of the activities will be outdoors anyway. I am also planning a trip near Reno in rural Northern California for September. Also will be mostly outdoor activities and will be staying with a friend there. Meaning we have control over preventative procedures in the house. This is an informative post thank you for sharing.

  58. What do you expect? It’s God’s country. Merica!

    I have no problem with all those states being wiped out and the number of states in the union being reduced. I encourage them to act as irresponsibly as possible.

  59. @Jade – go educate yourself (if such a thing is possible) by searching “excess deaths” and see if you come to the same conclusion

  60. LOL – “Why can’t Nevada and Utah be like New York, they have been declining for weeks!”

  61. Welcome to Trumpistan. Your observations are discouraging, but by no means a surprise.

    I have been thinking about a road trip to the same region (no flying for me, I’ll happily drive a couple days to get there) though I’m thinking about doing that in September (and only if viral conditions improve — right now it looks like trends are all going the wrong direction thanks to the covidiots). I would not have considered going on such a trip right now, and your reports only confirm that.

    I’m curious about a couple items: you talk about needing to rent gear. Do you mean really basic stuff like hiking boots and trekking poles? If so, I have all that and would bring it with me (note, even on a plane – there are ways to collapse most trekking poles and get them in a checked bag). If it’s more than that, can you elaborate just what sort of equipment someone would really need to enjoy the places you went? I think I have all the outdoor gear I’d need, but maybe there’s something special I’ve overlooked?

    About the UTV place you mentioned where the guy told you masks were not allowed…personally, I’d rather have a root canal than go on an “ATV tour” even if the people running it were not assholes, but…I sure hope your response to “we don’t allows those masks here” was some variation on “Fine, then I don’t need to put up with your stupidity and you don’t need me as a customer”. Please tell me you didn’t just comply and give that idiot your money.

    I’ll be very interested to hear about how crowded the parks were, on the trails, at viewpoints, etc., and whether it’s possible to really socially distance there and if it’s even remotely possible to enjoy the parks with anything like a little solitude under the current circumstances.

    And yes indeed, as that woman yelled to you: “good for you guys for wearing those.” Continue to do what’s right, and don’t let the morons dictate your behavior. Be smart, and stay safe.

  62. @Lucky

    I must admit feeling a bit of schadenfreude. The virus is obviously not fake or harmless. But the degree to which its effects, on the average person, are harmful is still up for debate. A healthy 30-something year old man with presumably no risk factors seems to have little to be concerned with. If there are known risk factors then you travel at your own peril.

    Concern for spreading to high risk people is fair but that’s not what you said. For me, probably the most off-putting behavior is when people use “settled science” or “science!” to bludgeon dissenters. There is nothing settled about this pandemic. It will take years of study and peer review before any solid consensus can be reached.

    There is evidence that mask wearing can be harmful to the wearer, and provides a false sense of security that induces other unhygienic behaviors. It’s not a choice between all good and all bad.

    And even if it was, the US has a very individualist culture. All the diktats by governors or cities will eventually be ignored by more and more people. Threats of enforcement are futile; politicians are going to lose this fight. The stay-at-home damn broke and this one will too whether collectivists like it or not.

  63. George’s comment at 1:38 is one of the most asinine things I’ve ever read. Is he actually trying to convince the author to accept homophobic troglodytes for who they are? What’s next, a “bigotslivesmatter” hashtag?

  64. @Jade

    “My statistically significant and comprehensive analysis of all CDC and WHO data collected to date regarding COVID-19 confirms the insignificance of this alleged threat.” –> So cool that you were able to analyze the 125,000+ people who have died from corona virus to determine conclusively that every single one of them would “have ultimately died from some other cause.”

    “My analysis is 100% comprehensive and absolutely irrefutable.” –> Given your “statistically significant and comprehensive analysis of all CDC and WHO data” I guess the rest of us are in just no position whatsoever to argue with you. After all, the rest of us are apparently “being taken for a fool by the oh-so-many intellectual midgets that run rampant within our society.”

    To pull a quote from Billy Madison: “what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.”

  65. @Bob

    You say “There is evidence that mask wearing can be harmful to the wearer, . . .”

    Could you please cite that evidence?

  66. @Ben
    Interesting about Zion Guru. They were almost all wearing masks last week, both in the store and on the shuttles, other than when we were outdoors. My wife and I have been super cautious throughout all of this and were generally appalled by the cavalier attitudes about masks and distancing in AZ and UT when we visited…and we live in a KS suburb KC! Not exactly a coastal elite city, lol… Though, I supposed your ATV experience sums up the differences between red and blue factions in America who’ve politicized things like safety, health, well being, consideration, and common sense. I just hope we can get a vaccine out soon, because this experiment in “personal responsibility” in the US isn’t proving very successful.

  67. I’ll preface what I’m about to say with the following: I live in NYC, wear a mask every time I leave my building and generally engage in social distancing wherever possible.

    With that out of the way, I have to say that even if I don’t fully agree with the stance of some of the people described in this post, I sort of “get it.” Everyone is pinning their hopes on a vaccine that may be more than a year away–and there’s no guarantee there will be an effective vaccine at all. NYC aside, we aren’t even *close* to herd immunity, and if antibodies fade within 2-6 months like some very recent studies have suggested, we may never get there at all at the rate we are going.

    So I think when you consider all of that, it’s easy to see why some of these people subscribe to the “if I get it, I get it” attitude. Is staying inside 24/7, constantly wearing masks, not traveling, not having social interactions, not going to bars/restaurants, etc. a world we want to live in with no end date in sight? Clearly some people have decided it isn’t.

  68. Ben, you chose to travel for “pleasure.” Yet here you are seemingly shocked and whining about it each and every day. Even after many of us who are forced to travel for work right now warned you that it is anything but fun. Limited services, having to think about everything you do or where to stop, a majority of completely ignorant travelers with no masks or precautions, and overwhelming eeriness of it all. Yet, you did it. And you seem to be acting as if it was some huge surprise. Further, you chose to go right into the heart of states that have been more than irresponsible. The Las Vegas Mayor being my favorite. Arizona is now the fastest rising hotspot in the country. Utah is fortunate in that it’s not densely populated outside of SLC or it would also be in significant trouble. Nevada will be next, mark my words.

    I am though glad you are realistically sharing with others what to expect. Your observations are very accurate. Travel for any enjoyment is completely dead. Ad hoc travel for a real need is the only reason to go any distance at all right now. If you need to get out just go to your local wilderness area and camp for a few days.

    The only pleasure we will get this summer is by living vicariously through the travel and joy the Europeans will now have. Because they did it right. They were disciplined. They had leadership. They earned it.

  69. @Bob not Bob

    Sure…

    “Respiratory infection is much higher among healthcare workers wearing cloth masks compared to medical masks, research shows.”

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422121724.htm

    This author discusses conflicting data and possible effects.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868614/

    Data do not back cloth masks to limit COVID-19, experts say

    https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/data-do-not-back-cloth-masks-limit-covid-19-experts-say

    Reuse of Disposable Medical Masks During Flu Pandemic Not Recommended; Reusing Respirators Is Complicated

    https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/data-do-not-back-cloth-masks-limit-covid-19-experts-say

    Exhaled Air Dispersion during Coughing with and without Wearing a Surgical or N95 Mask

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3516468/

    Some of these predated COVID-19. This took all of five minutes to find if anyone bothered to read multiple sources other than from trendy media sites.

    Also read or watch some interviews with Michael Osterholm. He’s an infectious disease expert with over 30 years experience. I found his way of explaining the virus to be calming measured. He was where I originally heard this claim from.

    The point isn’t that masks are or aren’t not harmful. Or even that they are or aren’t effective. The point is that experts are conflicted and *we don’t know* who is right.

  70. Wow. Some attitudes on this blog mean I’m probably not stepping foot there for a long time (and would hope my govt maintains travel bans on you lot). That’s some real messed up attitude to this pandemic. The beginning of the end of a once great state.

  71. Post a pic standing on that corner in Winslow, Arizona , if you’re going that way. Take it easy…

  72. That’s cultural relativism for you, buddy.
    Best be staying in densely-packed, effete urban locales because going anywhere else is likely to trigger you.
    Travel…who knew that there was diversity out there to be witnessed and experienced?

  73. I should’ve given you the heads up on the mask thing. If you’re fed up with corona overreaction, the west will feel refreshing. If you’re still concerned with covid, you will be in for a shock. However, keep in mind that nearly everyone at the parks / surrounding cities is there on vacation and has come there voluntarily. It’s not like you’re grocery shopping next to an old folks community where the mask would be sensible. People of the west, on average, have a different risk profile than the coasts and their approach can be justified on several grounds. Finally, if cases in AZ hadn’t spiked after they essentially fully opened the state with no masks, shouldn’t others be worried about efficacy of quarantine / masks?

  74. Masks, even if they were effective vis-a-vis COVID-19 (they’re not), protects OTHERS from you.

    If one wants to protect THEMSELVES, wear a face shield.

    Foolish to rely on others to protect you.

    If there is concern beyond that, time to still remain at home.

  75. @Mike…
    you write ” never bought into the COVID-19 hype “, So you call 117,000 deaths, in the USA alone, from Covid-19 – hype ? Whats wrong with you, maybe if you had a father or mother die from Covid-19 you would not be endorsing this virus as “hype” Shame on you .

  76. These are the COVID-19 numbers for Arizona. You can check the data yourself at the Arizona Department of Health Services website. I used 35% for asymptomatic cases to arrive at the infection fatality rate, which is what the CDC assumes, but the rate is probably higher. You can see that more than 75% off all deaths have been among those 65 and older. Undoubtedly the deaths of those younger involved a high proportion of comorbidities, most likely obesity. Lesson? Don’t be fat. COVID-19 probably won’t get you, but some metabolic disease will. For Lucky’s age group, only 3.7 per 100,000 people in Arizona have died from COVID-19. Again, likely fatties. If you are at risk, stay home. Don’t shame those who choose not to spend an entire year or more of their lives cowering in fear. You should be more afraid of dying in a car accident than from COVID-19 unless you are old and unwell. Use common sense. Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’!Age | Deaths | Percentage | IFR | Population | Per 100K | 1 in N
    <20 | 6 | 0.45% | 0.07% | 1,518,188 | 0.4 | 253,031
    20-44 | 70 | 5.23% | 0.18% | 1,874,329 | 3.7 | 26,776
    45-54 | 82 | 6.12% | 0.65% | 627,904 | 13.1 | 7,657
    55-64 | 173 | 12.92% | 1.73% | 442,372 | 39.1 | 2,557
    65+ | 1,008 | 75.28% | 9.40% | 667,839 | 150.9 | 663
    Total | 1,339 | | | 5,130,632 | |

  77. Ben, you’re coming across really whiny and entitled in your articles. Can’t you just enjoy the beautiful amazing scenery where you’re at and leave it at that? That BBQ place you went to in Page is amazing but that is small town America. It’s not fancy Miami like you might be used to. Try to adapt brother.

  78. Jesus, what is with the comment moderation on this site now?

    I wish there were a better way to post tables of data. Oh, and for frame of reference, New York has 159 deaths per 100,000 verus Arizona’s 18 overall.

    Age | Deaths | Percentage | IFR | Population | Per 100K | 1 in N
    <20 | 6 | 0.45% | 0.07% | 1,518,188 | 0.4 | 253,031
    20-44 | 70 | 5.23% | 0.18% | 1,874,329 | 3.7 | 26,776
    45-54 | 82 | 6.12% | 0.65% | 627,904 | 13.1 | 7,657
    55-64 | 173 | 12.92% | 1.73% | 442,372 | 39.1 | 2,557
    65+ | 1,008 | 75.28% | 9.40% | 667,839 | 150.9 | 663
    Total | 1,339 | | | 5,130,632 | |

  79. Are you and Ford still in Moab? It is our hometown! Would love to meet you guys, dinner is our treat!

  80. “Is staying inside 24/7, constantly wearing masks, not traveling, not having social interactions, not going to bars/restaurants, etc. a world we want to live in with no end date in sight?” – Nobody has ever said people have to stay inside 24/7. Nobody has said people can’t travel, but maybe people should wait until the virus is under control where they live before travelling to other places? Restaurants are starting to open up in NYC. Bars? Really? People can’t wait until the virus is under control before packing into bars? Constantly wearing masks? Aww poor babies are bothered by wearing a mask. Not having social interactions? Huh? People can socialize just not in massive groups. No end date in sight? You do realize that if people socially distanced and wore masks and did what they were supposed to the virus could be brought under control within weeks right??????? The restrictions are temporary. The reason why this is dragging out is because of the covidiots who don’t wear masks and refuse to socially distance. Odd how some countries have gotten the virus under control and have returned to some semblance of normal.

  81. Awesome post Peggy Newman however it will fall mostly on deaf ears in this forum which is being taken over increasingly by the PC fanatics who like to shame anyone that does not have their pro mask stay at home do as I say attitude. Makes me want to move to Utah.

  82. I was eagerly awaiting this trip report but it has turned out to be so far simply a moan about not encountering 100% of people wearing masks. You of all people must accept that when you travel, even within your own country, you will encounter people with different ideas about the way things are done. That is the beautiful thing about travel. I think after this trip, you should confine yourself to essential travel only and stay at home.

  83. I’m increasingly convinced that in the U.S., a substantial % of the population will only treat COVID-19 seriously after someone they know and care about gets seriously ill or dies. I will make decisions accordingly, as a resident of one of the states @Lucky visited (Utah). We fortunately have the youngest population in the country, which has contributed to low hospitalization and mortality rates, but infection rates have been spiking.

    Yes, the mortality rate isn’t as bad as it might have been. Yes, chances are, we will personally survive an infection. But many others won’t, including in particular the elderly. I find it hard to believe that so many people aren’t willing to take reasonable precautions so that other Americans can spend more time with their parents and grandparents before their premature death. What happened to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?

    At this point, it looks like something like 5% of the U.S. population has been infected (https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24632873-000-how-many-of-us-are-likely-to-have-caught-the-coronavirus-so-far/). We need to reach about 60% before we start getting herd immunity. Barring effective vaccines and treatments, that means we could see about 12x more of what we’ve seen to date. That means 12 x the current death toll (120,000, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html), or about 1.4 million deaths, give or take. Or about 20x of how many of us usually die from the flu, or 40x from motor vehicle accidents. Yes, we’ll get through this, and I’m thankful the virus to date seems to have a relatively low mortality rate. But let’s not kid ourselves. This is not “just the flu”.

  84. @Ben

    I am hoping that the flaming and irrational responses to this post will not cause you to shy away from the topic.

    For those of us who really enjoy traveling in the US, or must travel for family or business reasons, and are concerned about public health as well as our own, I hope you could work up a post with verified data on rising and falling COVID-19 rates in the US states.

    That sort of post would be useful for selecting destinations, as well as connecting airports. Maybe without comments, or heavily moderated?

  85. @Cargocult – you understand simply being over 65 shouldn’t be a death sentence, right? Esp. with life span passing 80 years in the US typically.

    Maybe do some searching on “excess deaths” over the past 3 months and come back to us with some legit “analysis”, vs. your Faux News-esque drivel as usual.

  86. “good for you guys for wearing those, no one does that around here”

    Deplorables gonna’ deplorable.

    Never thought I’d see the day that public health would political.

  87. Lucky, when you announced that you were traveling west to visit some National Parks a few days ago, I thought to myself, “this should be interesting.” Most people have been locked up for 90 days or so, and then to travel to a National Park – of course it’s going to be a zoo. National Parks are crowded and overrun during a normal summer; let alone the summer after COVID-19. I’ve done a couple trips since June 1st, and one of the last locations I would pick to visit would be a National Park.

    My first choice is to keep flights under two hours. They’re not fun right now, so why torture yourself beyond 120 minutes. Second, I’m not sight seeing anything popular or well known. Totally staying away from the crowds. Our destinations have been quiet pockets that don’t attract a lot of people. Colder, less nice weather – perfect.

    I’m sure there are some beautiful, quiet, and less glamorous corners of Florida or the southern states. Find a isolated cabin in the Appalachian mountains with lots of nature trails. Review Silver Airways and find a less traveled resort they fly to. I understand this isn’t you’re typical type of trip, but then these aren’t typical times.

    One other item is to remember when traveling during a pandemic, there is risk involved. You try to be smart and conscious about your actions and minimize the risk, but risk won’t be eliminated. Keep a backup plan in mind.

    Despite my lecture, love reading your reviews – Jimmy

  88. It astounds me that in a developed country that has a death toll of 110,000 + souls, a public health issue such as this could be a political football. The world watches in amazement.

  89. Bob Not Bob says: “ am hoping that the flaming and irrational responses to this post will not cause you to shy away from the topic.”

    “That sort of post would be useful for selecting destinations, as well as connecting airports. Maybe without comments, or heavily moderated? “

    Of course people want to heavily moderate opinions different from their own. Right Bob?

  90. Ironically maybe you should not be visiting these states if you are coming from a hotspot like Florida. They might need masks a couple weeks from now…..

  91. @Cmorgan

    All opinions regarding travel are and should be welcome on this site. But it seems normal to me to think that discussions off-topic should be moderated. Especially for an interesting post that starts with the simple premise of — we are traveling for the first time in a long while and are anxious, but looking forward to seeing the sites and meeting the people of the amazing American West, and this is what we noticed.

    But this simple premise has devolved here into responses about death rates of the elderly, denials of the severity of the virus, and cherry picked data by arm chair epidemiologists that has a place elsewhere, not in a travel blog.

    My suggestion to @Ben, one would think is simple and non-threatening — that he present today’s best understanding of the biologists, medical practitioners, data scientists, epidemiologists, and similar public health professionals of the successful methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19 for travelers, in a post that his readers can digest in a flame-free environment.

  92. @Jeff

    Just read an article yesterday about the Texas numbers. The ratio of positive cases to testing (what you referred to) are up each day for the past few weeks and have been above their stated goal of 6% since around 5/31 (after being down under 5% for most of May). 9 consecutive record days of hospitalizations and 5 consecutive days of cases. So this is a perfect example – in the state you referenced as well – of increased testing and increased cases NOT flattening the curve. I think we all know that this is because the state has begun to open up and people are probably not following guidelines. So please don’t pass this off as ‘the media not reporting positive news’ because your state is NOT working on a flattened curve, but rather an increasing curve. Here is the article – took me all of 30 seconds to find:

    https://www.texastribune.org/2020/06/20/coronavirus-texas-cases-daily-record/

  93. I get it that masks are a big deal for you Lucky. For many of us, its not a big deal.

    I’d love to read about your trip (sans mask input). It looks fantastic and the pictures are great!


  94. TY says:
    June 21, 2020 at 2:45 pm
    “I’m not convinced it is a political thing. I think it is anti-science bias here in the US’

    See “The Closing of the American Mind” and “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.”
    But with a leader who “loves the poorly educated” it has been made political.

     Alexander says:
    June 21, 2020 at 5:04 pm
    “That’s some real messed up attitude to this pandemic. The beginning of the end of a once great state.”

    And many of us realize this, with great sadness.

    Ken says:
    ‘June 21, 2020 at 6:01 pm
    What happened to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?’

    This is the heart of the matter; wearing masks protects others more than oneself. Current theme in American life is “me me me,” entitlement, don’t tread on me, etc. We’ve lost any concept of the social contract.

    Thanks for the report — we have to get from CA to Denver to see an immune-compromised family member in September. We’re trying to figure out a safe stopping point for the driving trip (Elko? Winnemucca? SLC?) and will be watching the stats with interest.

  95. To all of the morons who say 120,000 deaths is no big deal — I bet you said the same thing when 4 people died in Benghazi, right?

    Idiots.

  96. At this point a million words have been spoken and I do not see any agreement. Nor should we expect to see any. Why? Because the real issue has never been addressed.

    A properly worn mask of acceptable quality (N95 or better) *might* protect others if WORN PROPERLY.

    I have not seen a properly worn mask yet. Not even health care professionals (who still have a high incidence of infection even when properly trained)

    An improperly worn mask *will not protect others and can be more harmful than no mask at all*.

    Do some mask watching!

    Do the wearers continuously adjust the mask by touching the section if front of their mouth – and then touch any other surface in the vicinity or probably even their own mouth or eyes?

    Do mask wearers think they are immune and thus violate social distancing?

    Do mask wearers change their masks and only touch the strings, not the mask? Do they dispose of it safely (NOT IN THE TOILET)?

    I went to a wine tasting at a winery yesterday and the sommelier wore a mask and adjusted it every two minutes then held wine bottles to pour etc etc etc. The whole area was contaminated and almost every vessel was at risk. I could go on and on. Worse than no mask because she thought she was being socially distanced and safe in her handling of the product.

    Socially distance. Wash your hands every time you can. If you wear a mask make sure that you remember that it does nothing for you and unless you are very careful puts others at risk.

    If you want protection – WEAR A FACE SHIELD

    Stay safe. Stay home.

  97. @UA-NYC

    Do you know who issued a death sentence for those 65+? Cuomo. You talk of excess deaths while begging the question of why those deaths occurred. Did you ever read that ProPublica story on how California and New York each handled the pandemic? New York has 159 deaths per 100,000 while California has 14. That is a order of magnitude of difference. Cuomo resisted taking any mitigating measures and eventually was fighting with de Blasio over locking down New York City. Elected and public health officials urged people to go on with life as usual for almost two months after Wuhan was locked down. Masks were not recommended until April 3. Cuomo ordered sick patients be sent to nursing homes. Over 40% of US deaths are linked to nursing homes. Not only did elderly residents die, but their care givers, often ethnic minorities, were infected and exposed their families. The overwhelming outbreak in New York then seeded more outbreaks across the rest of the country. If masks were so vital to beating the virus, why didn’t the CDC tell us to do so from the beginning? I started wearing a mask in January. How about you?

  98. @Bob Not Bob

    The problem with the “best understanding” of the experts is that it often is mistaken or an outright lie. As I have repeated over and over, we were told that we didn’t need to wear masks and that doing so might actually be harmful, until April 3. This was a lie told to protect PPE supplies. If we’d been wearing masks starting as soon as we found out about Wuhan, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation. The lockdown skeptics said from the very beginning that shutting down the economy with so little understanding of the virus was a huge risk. Skepticism of the initial death numbers has proved to be correct, as the fatality rate now given by the CDC accords with the numbers skeptics were suggesting early on and were demonized for. Social media platforms were even censoring anything that didn’t toe the CDC/WHO party line (and they don’t even always agree) when they turned out to be wrong. Healthy and open debate of so-called expert opinion is essential. The sad fact is that most people are innumerate and ignorant (not just the deplorables) and the experts are not unbiased.

  99. “I’m a doctor who works with COVID patients” should send them running every time. 😉

    I’m headed to Grand Teton National Park next month, fully intent on wearing my mask and using that line (which is true). It’s amazing how many people who think this is a hoax will suddenly back away from a healthcare worker.

  100. @Lucky
    Not meant to be a critic, but as a citizen living in Hong Kong I still remembered you were telling people like face masks are useless and called it zombie apocalypse.

    Now that you know how I felt, in hysteria or fantasy mode after reading your articles by then

  101. TravelinWilly – who you calling deplorables? Lots of BLM protesters marched around without masks or social distancing and the media ate it up, conveniently forgetting that blacks are at elevated risk for catching and dying of COVID 19.

  102. @EK he refuses to address the zombie apocalypse period. It’s still in the files — he’s proud of it but also proud to post a pic of him and Alex wearing masks.
    Tone deaf whinging milequetoasts are like that sometimes.
    Blog died. The embers are just smoldering.

  103. As for not wearing masks in rural Utah, Dr. Dunn, the UT state epidemiologist, said yesterday: “For three straight weeks now our cases have been increasing at a rate that isn’t sustainable. We are at risk for overwhelming our hospital capacity which could result in Utahns not getting the medical care they need. Utah residents must do their part by limiting their number of close contacts through good physical distancing, wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible” As Delta Airlines CEO said about wearing a mask: “It’s (about) respect for others, and if you don’t have respect for others you don’t belong on Delta property,”

  104. They sell masks on every corner and at every gas station all across the country. A bundle of them for $3.99. I ain’t wearin no pretty boy mask. This is maga country. Merica !

  105. Here in Norway, very few people wear masks. In a country of just over 5 million there’s been less than 250 deaths. We shut down 12 March. Things were slowly reopened, and I believe the only sector that is still closed are nightclubs.

    In general, most people have heeded advice on social distancing, staying home as much as possible and washing hands. Unlike the US, this has not been political and the head honchos of our version of CDC have done an amazing job of keeping us up to date.

    There have so far only been two deaths of people under 50, and the average age of those who died is over 90. In general we have a fairly healthy population by world standards, with a much lower rate of obesity or diabetes than the US.

    As we are now heading into summer there have been a number of episodes where people have not kept their distance, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing another spike.

  106. @Bob and other “science is not settled” anti-maskers: I live in Hong Kong. We were exposed to the virus from late January. Masks on, starting in early February. Never officially required, just standard practice here.

    Guess what?

    No lockdown. Few official restrictions. Few closures. Relatively minor economic slowdown. By now, almost everything is back to 100% normal. Restaurants and bars are full, without masks.

    But: everyone still wears masks on the street, in shops, in elevators, on public transport. You get used to it. No big deal, really.

    The toll: 1,132 confirmed COVID19 cases, only 5 (five!) dead in 5 months. Pretty much zero local transmission. This in one of the densest cities in the world where 90% of trips are on mass transit.

    If that’s not scientific proof of the efficacy of masks, I don’t know what is.

    Please understand: masks are the shortest and easiest route back to normalcy. Believe me. Thanks to masks, we are enjoying a beautiful, restriction-free summer, albeit with no foreign travel. But who wants to go anywhere when we are so safe here?

  107. Just browsing through the comments here and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the US is going to end up at over 200k deaths due to COVID-19. Especially with the infection numbers about to hit an all time daily peak since this all started.

    How you’ve managed to politicise something as sensible / effective (ask Japan / South Korea) as wearing a mask when you’re sick / during a public health crisis… just astonishing.

  108. If there’s one thing that consistently shows how screwed this country is, it’s the ignorant notion that the purpose of wearing a mask is to protect the wearer. The real purpose is to protect others. You protect others, and others protect you. The failure of Americans to wrap their heads around this simple idea can be extrapolated and applied to our entire political situation.

  109. When they said “those masks”, is it possible they were talking about the ones where you try to protect yourself while sending a plume of made-in-Miami air out a valve at everyone else?

  110. It’s very interesting that you had the same reaction that I recently had going to a small resort town near Taos, NM where judging from the license plates along the main drag around 70% of the visitors were from Texas and Oklahoma. I saw very few people in the resort town wearing a mask, which was completely different from the city I live in, Albuquerque, where almost everyone wears a mask in public. In New Mexico, we still have a mandatory mask law and a governor who has done an amazing job in this crisis. And our infection numbers are actually going down, unlike all of our neighboring states with the possible exception of Colorado.

  111. @Ben: these people are living their lives. If you watch too much news you move yourself to a cave. Yes, Covid exists and you have to take precautions but if you watch the news you will be like a friend of mine from Boston that hasn’t left his home to go to his mail box outside. Yes, that bad. Now, imagine what this has done to his mind. He is mid 40’s, Covid free but his mind is of a 120 year old.

  112. I mean, you can’t be too surprised that small town, rural, mountain America isn’t the same as very dense, coastal Miami. That’s about as ignorant as people saying it’s just the flu… take your own precautions that you feel are necessary but don’t shame people living in a small town where cases are very low.

    Like many have said, if you don’t feel safe, you should probably stay home. It is rather inconsiderate of you to travel to those relatively unaffected areas from your hot spot and project your standards on them when you guys are the potential contagions – not them.

    Props for not moderating the comments though. It’s good to allow everyone to speak their mind.

  113. A shout out to DD and Mike! I totally agree with both of you! Thank you for your very well written comments.

  114. Ben, maybe you should be a little less judgmental and just accept that some people have decided not to let their lives get overrun by hysteria and panic. Why don’t you take the precautions you want to take and let others use their good judgment to make their own decisions? Isn’t it a bit arrogant to think that others are ignorant or careless just because they have another opinion than yours on how to respond to the situation?

    Plenty of research has shown that masks are ineffective. At best, their effectiveness is disputed and inconclusive.

    So how about chilling on the totalitarian approaches trying to force draconian measures on everyone, and stick to travel blogging?

  115. Thank you for traveling to these places and let us know what’s it’s like on the ground.

    I think it’s good that these people aren’t wearing masks. We won’t really know the true effectiveness of masks when we don’t have a large volunteers who refuse to wear them. If people start to pass away en masse in these none masking wearing areas, then we will know mask wearing is actually effective. I look forward to see the real life experiment with great zeal! Wearing a mask is uncomfortable and I hope those good people in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada is right. Now where is my popcorn…..

  116. hard to believe blue state such as Arizona and Nevada are so anti-masking and doesn’t take covid-19 seriously as well

  117. The death toll across the USA will top a quarter million this year — and that’s just this year, it’s going to go on for years. There have already been more Americans killed by this pandemic than died in World War I.

    The only thing that will get the virus under control is a change in administration in DC. Otherwise, the profound stupidity of the fascists here would kill millions more in this country. It’s going to take another year after Trump and his family have fled to Russia before the pandemic is under control here, and it will be literally years before Americans are able to travel freely internationally because of the ignorance and stupidity of the orange suckers. As you sit at home in 2022 and see people from other countries enjoying restriction-free travel around the world, you can thank all the Trump worshippers.

  118. @ BEN:
    W O W . . . i’m stunned, but VERY interesting reading your experience!
    I guess ————–> NEXT STOP “BAVARIA” for a hike, i can tell you 1st hand, it’s totally different there (here!). Masks in every store even the small bakeries and also on some of the huts (Almen) in the muntains, and max. 4 people to a long and big table!

    Seeing reports online, i did NOT expect anything else from this trip you Guys took, but that it would be so shocking, ….. i actually think you went on a trip to the 3rd World?
    Maybe it’s not that far away from it, but tourism will be hitting the US in a BIG way . . . . DOWN!!
    Some people are just stubborn and eduvcation is nothing you can win at the lottery, but
    reading your lines, it makes you really wonder! CRAZY!! 🙁 Sad would be the wrong word
    as i it’s all up to the people themselve what the outcome will be sooner or later.
    So, B A V A R I A might be the next hiking trip for you 2?? I can highly recommend it and the precautions taken and by 99% of the people respected too, it’s OK and good.
    Numbers don’t lie! Seeing is believeing i guess? You made your experience now!
    SHOCKING!
    Servus from Bavaria

  119. FWIW, Denver had 27 new cases today. Miami-Dade had 710. Perhaps it’s you who’s doing the wrong thing and bringing the virus to places that are already on the downward slope.

  120. You talked a lot about Page, AR so I was curious to check their numbers. It is part of the Coconino county which has a population density of 7.2 inhabitants per square mile. Miami-Dade county has 1,431 inhabitants per square mile. Maybe that explains why they see Covid a little different there.

  121. Here on the West Coast the higher end the property is the higher compliance is going to be. Ritz Carlton and Park Hyatt are just not going to tolerate the behavior that you experienced in the boonies. Unfortunately when you mix with the uneducated you are going to see what you saw. The bright side of all this is that you can immediately identify the Covidiots!
    Thank you for sharing!

  122. And in News From the Hot Zone:

    The international medical charity Doctors Without Borders is now setting up in Florida to help slow the COVID pandemic.
    That’s what the country has come to.

    Vladimir Putin’s dreams come true.

  123. @George: “If you want acceptance everywhere, it’s important to accept everyone everywhere.”

    Does your “everyone” include bigots everywhere?

  124. I own the Chile Pepper Bike Shop in Moab and I require all of my staff to wear a mask as well as customers. We also limit it to 8 people in our store at one time. We have a hand wash station at the front door. If people don’t wash hands or wear a mask, you’re not coming inside. We’ll serve those who don’t agree with our guidelines curbside only. It is truly amazing how ‘politicized’ the virus has become. 95% of our customers appreciate our efforts to keep them safe and our staff and community safe. It is a very sad state of affairs in our country currently, on so many levels.

  125. This was an interesting read and I am amazed that so many are not wearing masks . What is it in America?
    Loss of freedom ?
    Against the constitution ?
    In U.K. these people are called COVIDIOTS .

  126. The comments on this blog seem to be very centered on the US, where the masks are a political issue – so here are my too cents from Denmark:

    No one in Denmark is wearing masks. No one! The government does not recommend it. We have a center left government (who I voted for, full disclosure) at the moment (by policy, properly considered fringe left -by american standards), but the “masks are not needed” policy has wide political backing. It’s just not a political issue, at all. Left or right, no one is “pro mask”.

    As a Danish citizen im very happy with this policy. I could just not imaging living my everyday life, with having to wear a masks (i know in the US this seems like a political statement, it is not). I think the Danish track record on handling COVID-19 speaks for it self, we have very few new cases now, after a spike in april. 25 new cases in a day is big news here. A COVID related death is news, a day without COVID deaths is not.

    I’m very avid traveller, but as border has started to open, the mandatory mask policy of many European nations, makes we a lot less eager to travel. Why would i pay money to go to an other country where i have to use a mask every time i go out?

    My big fear is the the mask frenzy becomes permanent, and in 5 year, after COVID is log gone, masks are stil mandatory on planes, trains ect…

  127. We’re going to Santa Fe, NM next month. We have to get out of Dallas for a week otherwise we’ll go cray cray begin cooped up in the house. And Austin and Houston are definitely off limits with rates breaking records each and every day plus Texas in summer (NOT a fan).

    I’m like you thinking an outdoorsy vacay would be good and I think we’ll get to do some of that, but we’re planning more on changing our scenery than anything else.

  128. @ABJ

    Totally agree. Masks are actually a problem because they give false sense of security and when improperly used are worse as they concentrate the covid droplets which are then passed on to surfaces by the wearers not properly handling them.

    As for masks staying around – Asians in HKG as an example have been wearing them since SARS. They have not gone away. They did not save anything – shutting down the airport saved Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia. Not mask wearing.

    Stay safe.

  129. @Bo Belinski

    My reply to you from afar was moderated into the garbage can it appears, as it is not found above. So I will try to repeat the message using different words but imagine the result will be the same. Being wary of placing infinite faith in masks appears to be Politically Incorrect on this site.

    I find it interesting that everyone is blaming Trump but have not bothered to make an issue of all of the left wing protests and riots in the street that will cause the biggest spike in covid that you have ever seen. You will not be protected from virus transmission because your politics are Politically Correct at this moment of time.

    All the kids on the beach and in the parks will also not be protected from covid because they are Bernie or Biden supporters. The virus does not know left from Adam.

    So blame Trump (probably a good idea since he tried to pass the virus off as “nothing but a flu”) but at this time you should be looking for any stupid behaviors – not just blaming one person.

    The only way to beat this is to SOCIALLY ISOLATE and wear a shield. Masks are dangerous. Like guns, in the wrong hands they are deadly.

  130. @ben

    Every time I state that hating Trump will not save lives – wearing masks will not save lives when used improperly (everyone uses them improperly) and that the recent protests in the street will pass on the virus more than anything else

    … the comments are moderated and disappear into thin air.

    Socially Distance, wear a SHIELD, stop blaming.

  131. Wow, the thought police have arrived at OMAAT. My comment was moderated and only had official statistics of how likely one was to die of the virus vs other things.

  132. @ Tommy Boy — Auto-filtered due to the nature of one of the examples you gave. If you’d like to repost using a scenario that isn’t known to encourage ideation, we’re happy to publish it.

  133. I feel truly sorry for the normal, intelligent, educated people in the States who try to do the right thing and grasp basic logic. For the rest, the virus eventually claiming them will be purely Darwinian natural selection. The USA is looking every day to the rest of the world more and more like a failed state.

    I agree with some that you both should have told the lukewarm IQ moron at the “Ultimate UTV Adventures” shop that he can shove his uneducated, horrendous attitude where the sun doesn’t shine, and simply denied him your hard-earned cash.

  134. Wilhelm gave an example from Norway, and I could give a similar one from another Nordic country, Finland. Measures in both countries have been quite similar and effective, and the situation in both countries is fairly good now. For example in Finland, we are experiencing in average less than 10 new cases daily for some time already.

    The Finnish government has not at any point given a recommendation to use masks, saying that there is no scientific proof that a regular non-medical mask would help in the big picture. At the same time, they have been saying that if you use the mask in an incorrect way (as actually many people do, touching their masks etc.), it increases the risk of infection. To sum it up, it has been left to each one of us to assess whether to use a mask or not. As a result, very few people use masks anywhere. If you take a sample of people in public places, it is at maximum 1-2% of people using those. It’s not about people not caring, it’s rather about not overreacting. Quite opposite, people in general take the virus very seriously. And to give some political context, I would say 90% of our people would vote Democrats in the US.

    Coming from this background, I don’t really understand this whole rant about masks, to way or another. Yes, there are situations where it is a no-brainer to use them. If it makes you feel good and safe, please do it. But it is a drop in the ocean in the big picture.

  135. Deaths per 1 million pop:
    Finland – 59
    Norway – 46
    Singapore (Mask wearing country) – 4
    South Korea (Mask wearing country) – 5
    Japan (Mask wearing country) – 8
    Taiwan (Mask wearing country) – .3

  136. @realnumbers

    Singapore. Total shutdown borders but late. I don’t trust that number as they have had a resurgence.
    South Korea. Total shutdown February
    Japan. Borders closed Feb
    Taiwan total shutdown Feb

    Taiwan or South Korea shut border to China first in Jan?

    Finland and Norway shut borders in March.

    New Zealand Australia total shutdown in February. Their numbers are as good as Korea or Taiwan. NO MASKS. NO NEED

    The real factor is. CLOSED BORDERS, not masks.

  137. That’s funny because the US shut the border to China on Jan. 31. So much for that theory. Also I know people who traveled roundtrip from the US to Japan in mid-March. So how exactly were they shutdown in February?

    New Zealand had one of the strictest lockdown/social distancing measures in the World.

  138. The US did not “shut the border to China.” The border with China leaked like a sieve during February and March, as over 40,000 people traveled directly from China to the US on 279 flights, many directly from Wuhan. Screening upon entry was spotty at best.

    The US only limited entry by foreigners who had been in China, HK, or Macau during the 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry to the US. Not to everyone.

    The order did not apply to US residents and to green card holders, their spouses, children, siblings, adoptees, airline crew members, diplomats, and anyone the Dept of State determined could enter.

    And while the US was proclaiming it was safe because it had stemmed the tide from China, the virus was flying into the country from the UK and EU.

    Masks work. We wear masks in NY, NJ, CT. We cut the infection rate down to 1%.

    And now the virus is flaring in the the non-mask wearing parts of the US. As of today, if you want to visit NY, NJ, or CT, you must both quarantine for 14 days. And wear a mask. We believe in public health.

  139. Excellent idea to shut your borders.

    If you think a mask protects you so be it. Practice social distancing and the mask issue is irrelevant. But don’t rely on it.

    Kinda like a leaky condom.

  140. Correlation does not imply causality. Situation may have never escalated in mask-wearing places (Asian countries), or has improved tremendously (NY, NJ, CT), but it does not mean that it is because of the masks. Those places have probably done some other very good things that have improved the situation, and especially I guess in the US, the use of masks is correlated with some other effective measures and with how responsible people are in general, which are the real things that matter. And as said, Finland and Norway have done a very good job killing the epidemic situation without masks. Today, we recorded 5 new cases, and this has been the ballpark for some time already.

    Nothing against masks, they are fine, but as long as we are talking about non-medical masks, I think it is a false sense of security and irrelevant compared to physical distancing, forced quarantines and closed borders. This whole discussion of masks vs. not masks just gets way too much attention compared to some other more important things.

    For example, no one should be allowed to travel anywhere from a state like Florida where the epidemic situation is very bad, but traveling from those highly infected places still happens as we see from this blog.

  141. I just saw the news that AZ is becoming an epicenter of Covid19. Ben’s experience definitely reflects the spike. Wear mask, people. Nothing is short to be safe for yourself and others.

  142. Yikes! I have a trip planned to Telluride in August and was considering going into Utah, guess not!

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