National Parks Starting to Close Amid Coronavirus Fears
When the novel coronavirus started to sweep across the country, the National Park Service started to waive entrance fees. The idea was that as we started to practice social distancing, Americans should have unfettered access to the outdoors. Then the parking lots and the visitor centers started to fill up, worrying park employees.
Now, after officials grew concerned about the spread of the coronavirus on crowded trails, some of the country's most popular parks have started to close, according to The Associated Press.
Glacier in Montana and Arches and Canyonlands in Utah announced their decisions to close just before the weekend, just days after several others as Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains did the same, The Associated Press reported.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials, for example, announced that "visitors from across the country have flocked to the area due to spring break, wildflowers and warm weather conditions," as Marketplace reported. Officials said that in the week before closing, approximately 30,000 people entered daily. That's up by 5,000 a day from last March.
Local leaders in Moab, which is the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands, had pleaded with the Federal government to close the parks, arguing that an influx of visitors posed a grave threat to the surrounding communities. They also implemented tight strictures on businesses outside the park, as EcoWatch reported.
The Southeast Utah Health Department issued orders limiting tourist services to protect Moab, the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. The health department ordered businesses where people gather to close down and only offer curbside, "no contact" service. It also banned nonlocals from checking into hotels or camping outside the park, according to EcoWatch.
Moab's tiny hospital has only two ventilators and no intensive care unit at all, according to the Southeast Utah Health Department, as The Associated Press reported.
In Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park remains open, even though local health officials and the Navajo Nation have asked for it to be closed as cases of COVID-19 in the surroundings areas have grown.
"They're scared for their health and the health of the community and visitors," said Kevin Dahl, Arizona's senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, over the weekend, referring to the Grand Canyon park employees and South Rim residents he's talked with, as National Parks Traveler reported. "They wonder why hasn't it closed down when other national parks have closed down?"
The decision to keep parks open by the secretary of the interior drew criticism from an Arizona congressman, Raúl Grijalva, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
"For someone in Secretary Bernhardt's position, it is cavalier at best and profoundly dangerous at worst to encourage public lands visits without encouraging all visitors to avoid crowding of high-traffic areas and popular parks. He should revise his recommendations to better reflect the advice of public health experts," Grijalva said in a statement, as Marketplace reported.
New Zealand could be the first country in the world to require its major financial institutions to report on the risks posed by the climate crisis.
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By Brett Wilkins
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.
<div id="13077" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="11b9fe5ff48ebc437353df6df9c2c892"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1305915938148147205" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Just a week before the Trump administration issued an executive order aimed at keeping meat packing plants open, th… https://t.co/DkbXgPm4YR</div> — ProPublica (@ProPublica)<a href="https://twitter.com/propublica/statuses/1305915938148147205">1600189597.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="36e4c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e7c8048c2755109629a3b3072fcb3261"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1304424041814593539" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Meatpacking union @UFCW, which reps workers at this plant (four of whom died), slams OSHA for the small $13k fine a… https://t.co/tnhfKd89ab</div> — Dave Jamieson (@Dave Jamieson)<a href="https://twitter.com/jamieson/statuses/1304424041814593539">1599833901.0</a></blockquote></div><p>The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents Smithfield Foods workers, <a href="https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2020/09/10/osha-fines-smithfield-foods-sioux-falls-south-dakota/5768786002/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=f7bf3f03-ce98-4df4-9c45-f44d9a6a5890" target="_blank">slammed</a> the fine as "insulting and a slap on the wrist."</p><p>"How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump administration, clearly not much," said UFCW president Marc Perrone.</p><p>"This so-called 'fine' is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic," Perrone added. </p><p>Other critics, including vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights and environmental advocates argued that the accelerated spread of Covid-19 from meatpacking facilities is but the latest compelling argument in favor of reducing—or eliminating—meat consumption.</p><p>"We know that Covid-19 originated in a meat market and that previous influenza viruses originated in pigs and chickens," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/meat-shortage-slaugherhouses-go-vegan/" target="_blank">said</a> in April amid news that a Foster Farms slaughterhouse in Livingston, California was <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/coronavirus-covid-19-slaughterhouse-meat-concerns/?utm_source=PETA::Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=0420::veg::PETA::Twitter::Workers%20Blame%20Major%20Pig%20Slaughterhouse%20600%20Infected%20COVID-19::::tweet" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ordered closed</a> by local health authorities due to a Covid-19 outbreak that killed eight employees.</p>
<div id="28490" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="48ddd3480a2beb42597d9516ef652f0f"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1252416495990140929" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! @SmithfieldFoods allegedly took NO PRECAUTIONS to protect the safety of its workers, leaving o… https://t.co/viAJ026pLy</div> — PETA (@PETA)<a href="https://twitter.com/peta/statuses/1252416495990140929">1587434336.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"It's not a matter of <em>whether</em> using and killing animals for food will give rise to another disease outbreak—it's a matter of <em>when</em>," said PETA. "There has never been a better, more obvious time for businesses to put an end to their dirty trade of slaughtering animals for their flesh." </p>
By Andrea Willige
More than half of the world's population lives in cities, and most future population growth is predicted to happen in urban areas. But the concentration of large numbers of people and the ecosystems built around their lives has also been a driver of climate change.