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    Category: Walkways and Steps

    RMWB closes all parks, keeps trails and walkways open – Fort McMurray Today - March 25, 2020 by admin

    The entrance to a park on Wilson Drive in Fort McMurray, Alta. on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

    The municipality is keeping trails and walkways open, but has shut down all parks in the region.

    This closure includes dog parks, gazebos, playgrounds, community gardens, green spaces, picnic areas and spray parks. Athletic areasincluding baseball fields, basketball courts, cricket pitches, outdoor rinks, skateboard parks, and tennis and volleyball courtsare also included in the ban.

    Public washrooms in parks have already been closed to the public.

    Signs will be installed informing the public of the closures and restrictions.

    People can use the walkways in these areas, but usage of the park amenities is prohibited.

    I understand that these are aggressive steps to be taking, but by putting these precautionary measures in place now, we will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community, said Mayor Don Scott in a Monday statement. Everyone has a role to play and its important that residents respect these closures, follow public health recommendations and continue to work together.

    People that go outside are asked to be vigilant in following all public health recommendations, particularly social distancing. All pets must be on a leash when using trails and walkways.

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    RMWB closes all parks, keeps trails and walkways open - Fort McMurray Today

    Malls taking proactive steps to check Covid-19 – The Star Online - March 25, 2020 by admin

    A SHOPPING outlet is taking down personal particulars of its patrons as a measure to guard against the spread of Covid-19.

    Kompleks Bukit Jambul (KBJ)security and safety manager Eric Voon said they would record names, MyKad and phone numbers of those entering the complex via the main entrance.

    He said only the grocery outlet, and several food and beverage outlets at the lower ground and ground floors were open while the first to sixth floors of the complex were sealed off.

    Those who want to do their grocery shopping will definitely have to pass through this main entrance.

    We will take down their names, MyKad and phone number before they are allowed to enter.

    The security station set up at the main entrance of KBJ to record people going in and out of the complex.

    By keeping the records of these people, we can know the number of people coming in and going out daily at the complex.

    In the event of an unforeseen incident, we should be able to locate them, he said.

    Voon added that security guards have been stationed at several entry points to assist shoppers in buying household goods.

    He said there were also red markers at the entrance to ensure the people observe social distancing while waiting to enter.

    At Prangin Mall, security guards were seen at entry points and walkways leading up to the food and beverage stores in the premises.

    Elevator buttons from the first to sixth floor of KBJ are sealed while the grocery and several food outlets on the lower ground are open to the public.

    A check by StarMetro found that the guards were also patrolling each floor to ensure that people do not wander aimlessly inside the building.

    The guards would approach those at the mall and help them speed up their errands.

    Gama senior manager (marketing division) Leong Hau Soon said they had placed yellow markers on the floor to facilitate social distancing at the cashiers.

    We put up notices to advise shoppers to queue behind the yellow lines and stay at arms length of one another.

    The move is a non-pharmaceutical infection control to prevent the spread of the contagious disease.

    We hope shoppers will cooperate with us in this challenging time, she added.

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    Malls taking proactive steps to check Covid-19 - The Star Online

    Public beach parking to close in St. Johns County after near record number of beach-goers – WTLV-WJXX - March 25, 2020 by admin

    ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. Starting Monday morning at 6 a.m., St. Johns County will close all public beach parking lots in an effort to "maximize compliance" with the state's latest executive order. The parking lots will be closed until further notice amid efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

    The county's beaches will remain open.

    St Johns County Administrator Hunter Conrad said their beach attendance nearly reached new records this weekend. After evaluating those numbers and consulting with law enforcement officials, they made their decision to close the parking lots at the beaches.

    "It is clear that the county needs to take additional steps to further reduce the size of the crowds on our beaches, Conrad said. Our goal is to allow the beaches to remain as accessible as possible to our residents, while still observing CDC guidelines and protecting the health, safety and welfare of our community.

    The decision follows a recommendation by the St. Johns County Sheriffs Office, the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, St. Johns County Emergency Management and local health officials as they work to reduce the number of beach-goers at this time.

    People can still access St. Johns County beaches through pedestrian walkways, but county officials ask beach-goers to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people. They also remind people to maintain a minimum distance of six feet between other parties in compliance with CDC guidelines.

    Social distancing is one of the main ways to combat the spread of COVID-19, along with proper handwashing.

    Drivers trying to access the St Johns County beaches are still not allowed at this time. Vehicles remain prohibited on the beach until further notice.

    For more information, please call 904-824-5550.

    RELATED: 75 cases of coronavirus recorded across First Coast counties; Expanded testing to begin at TIAA Bank Field

    RELATED: LIVE BLOG | 75 cases of COVID-19 reported across the First Coast

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    Public beach parking to close in St. Johns County after near record number of beach-goers - WTLV-WJXX

    Southern Californians who fail to heed coronavirus warnings run into new restrictions especially at the beach – Palos Verdes Peninsula News - March 25, 2020 by admin

    The weekend brought an onslaught of cooped-up, stressed-out folks to Southern California beaches, parks and trails.

    But Sunday, the public found yellow caution tape draped off a popular basketball court in Laguna Beach; piers in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach blocked to visitors; volleyball courts stripped of their nets on the sand across Los Angeles County.

    Some coastal towns were particularly hard hit with an unexpected number of beachgoers over the weekend, raising outrage that not everyone is taking seriously the admonition to stay home or apart to stop the spread of coronavirus.

    Im disgusted. Im really disgusted with all the people who came to Laguna Beach yesterday and put all of our lives in jeopardy, Laguna Beach Councilman Peter Blake said Sunday.

    This is not a sports place for you to enjoy yourself during a pandemic.


    From Malibu to San Clemente, Californians crowded beaches and other outdoor areas. So much so, that some residents are demanding beaches be shut down, and city officials are warning that could just happen if people do not practice social distancing, or maintaining at least six feet from one another.

    To be clear, the city does not have the authority to unilaterally close the beaches, San Clemente Mayor Dan Bane wrote on Facebook. But if people do not self-quarantine, he wrote, and continue to congregate in public areas, particularly at beaches, my expectation is that the state will completely close the beaches at some point for everyone.

    In Hermosa Beach, officials met Sunday afternoon to call for closing its city-owned beac

    Still, city officials were concerned about the crowds.

    If you must get outside, please avoid the beach and the Strand, City Manager Suja Lowenthal said. If the number of beachgoers doesnt decrease, she added, city officials will consider other actions, including closure.

    The affluent South Bay beach towns shuttered all parks, fields, sports courts and exercise equipment ahead of the weekend.Even small play structures, such as a beloved single dolphin at Torrances Miramar Park was cordoned off with yellow tape and a COVID-19 warning sign.

    The South Bays Redondo Beach issued strict safer at home orders to its residents, but did not close its pier or the International Boardwalk.


    How cities tackle the coronavirus threat is quickly changing.

    On Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcettiannounced plansto close beaches and nearby parking lots at Venice Beach. Garcetti also said he is closing sports and recreation at parks, including public golf courses.

    h and walkway to the public, but decided against it, according to a city spokeswoman.

    Long Beach closed down allplaygrounds, dog parks, skate parks and other sports facilities in parks and beaches. Mayor Robert Garcia took to Twitter to admonish residents with this message: Seriously people, you need to practice social distancing. I am seeing tons of people out there acting like there is no crisis

    In Laguna Beach, Mayor Bob Whalen issued a statement Sunday urging people who dont live in the city to stay away from the beaches. If social distancing is not observed, we will close the beaches.

    Everyone can take a walk and exercise outdoors in their own communities. Please do this for the health of everyone in our county, our state and beyond.

    Later Sunday, the Laguna Beach City Council met in an emergency closed session and voted to direct city staff to close trail access to the county wilderness parks Monday morning and to close city beaches by Monday evening.

    The council also directedstaff to ask the County of Orange to close its beaches in the city or to grant the city permission to do so.The city beach closures would also include closure of adjacent parks, including Main Beach, Heisler and Treasure Island.

    In Huntington Beach, the real challenge was thinning out groups on sidewalks and walkways in the downtown area. The city attracted about 5,000 beachgoers on Saturday a low number for a beautiful day, said City Manager Oliver Chi. Still, local police, lifeguards and others did outreach to encourage social distancing.

    In the next day or so, officials will consider taking additional measures regarding downtown, the pier and other public spaces, like the citys golf course and the equestrian center, to encourage social distancing but still allow for public access, Chi said.

    In Seal Beach, the pier was a big attraction on Saturday but the numbers appeared to wane on Sunday, as the weather changed.

    Still, said Seal Beach Councilman Joe Kalmick, Its busier than usual.

    But theres one part of town thats staying put. Residents in Seal Beachs Leisure World community, home to some 9,000 older residents, have seen all their club houses, sports courts and other amenities close down.

    Theres hardly anyone out, Sandra Massa-Lavitt said. I walk out onto my sidewalk, and I take a couple of deep breaths and I walk in. People have to take personal responsibility. The government cant take care of everybody all the time.


    Some trails across Southern California also were overrun with people desperate to get a little fresh air days afterGov. Newsom issued a clampdown on the state.

    Whittier residents Hector Castillo and Ashley Monterroso went out for a hike and some fresh air Sunday, enjoying the view from the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook above the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

    I was feeling cabin fever, Monterroso said.

    Altadena resident Amanda Freeman said she has lived in her home over 25 years and never seen as many cars in her neighborhood, with people looking to hike Eaton Canyon and Millard Canyon.

    This is not sheltering in place. This is congregating. This is dangerous, Freeman said Sunday. Everyone is so careful when they go to the grocery store, staying away from each other, then they come here and are crowding and passing each other on crowded trails.

    Laguna Beach appeared to be one of the favorite spots this weekend, especially popular Thousand Steps.

    The city used an outdoor loudspeaker, a system that went online in March, to remind people to keep a six-foot distance. Laguna Beach police also used drones to keep tabs on people from the sky.

    It didnt stop there. Alarmed city officials ordered the beachs basketball hoops taken down, the volleyball net removed and the playground declared off-limits.

    Beau Brower, an Orange resident who went for a drive down the coast with his family on Saturday, said he couldnt believe the scene in Laguna Beach.

    Laguna was insane. Nobody there is following the CDC recommendations, Brower said.

    It was just like any other day.

    Staff writers and photographers Erika Ritchie, Leonard Ortiz, Ed Crisostomo, Mike Sprague, Laylan Connelly and David Rosenfeld contributed to this story.

    Originally posted here:
    Southern Californians who fail to heed coronavirus warnings run into new restrictions especially at the beach - Palos Verdes Peninsula News

    Coronavirus: Iwi across NZ step up tourist blockades, close huts and walkways – - March 25, 2020 by admin

    FormerTai Tokerau (Northland) MP Hone Harawira is planning to block tourists from entering the Far North to protect locals from the spread of coronavirus.

    Harawira saidthe steps to protect thevulnerable by raising New Zealand to Covid-19 alert level four from 11.59pm on Wednesdayhave come"too little too late".

    It's a call many other iwiare making in a bid to protect their people, and their resources,before the country heads into a month-long shut down on Thursday.

    With support from iwi leaders and Far North MayorJohn Carter, checkpoints will be put in place onSH1 Whakapara and SH12 Waipoua from 12pm on Wednesday, with further checkpoints to be organised for the Kerikeri area.

    READ MORE:* Coronavirus: Full coverage*Isolated East Cape community takes matters into its own hands*Coronavirus: Government shuts borders to all but citizens and residents*Hone Harawira gets clear Te Tai Tokerau run for Mana not running against Maori Party in other seats

    "Tai Tokerau will suffer from government allowing tens of thousands of tourists into the country beforeclosing the borderlast week," Harawirasaid.

    "Thousands of them [have been] roaming freely across the north without being tested, without self-isolating for 14 days, and without giving a damn for us."

    The plan is to turn back tourists heading north andask those already in the area to head south, he said.

    Arrangements would be made for locals coming home to be tested, while ensuring a "free flow" to those who provided emergency services, food and medical supplies.


    The Waikaremoana Great Walk in Te Urewera is popular among tourists.

    He was also planning to distribute a flyer at checkpoints,with an explanation onthe blockades, medical tips and advice for tourists and locals.

    Dr Lance O'Sullivan, who was named New Zealander of the Year in 2014 for makingbasic healthcare more accessible for people in the Far North, had agreed to support the checkpoints by organising test kits, protective gear and caravans.

    "We've received hundreds of messages of thanks and offers of support over the last 24 hours, and we have talked to Whnau-a-Apanui, police, the mayor, iwi, and health authorities," Harawira said.

    He admitted that by setting up the checkpoints the group were putting themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus, but said "we have no choice".

    "The country is moving to a war footing and we aim to ensure Tai Tokerau is ready to defend its territory and its people from Covid-19."

    The blockades would continue until he's "convincedgovernment is throwing the necessary resources into turning this threat around".


    Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira will set up a blockade for tourists heading to the Far North (file photo).

    "We ask whnau to be safe, take care of your kaumatua and kuia, and find ways to keep your kids active and happy in these times of crisis."

    And it's not only healthcare iwi are concerned about.

    In a small Mori community in Taup, a rhui has been placed on the local foreshore and river.

    Waitahanui, which has a population of about 500, has banned fishing, hunting, gathering, swimming, and overnight camping in their area, including all waterways and reserves.

    "We are encouraging everyone who does not live in this village to remain home and self-isolate," Ngti Twharetoa member Janice Wall said.

    "Do your part to stop the spread. This is also to encourage self-isolation.

    Our mokopuna (grandchildren) are at the forefront of all our decisions in our village."

    In Te Urewera, in the Bay of Plenty, all huts, campgrounds and walks, including the popular Waikaremoana Great Walk, will be closed to the publicin preparation for the country moving to level four alert for Covid-19.

    Ngi Thoe members will also be manning the area to ensure the guidelines are adhered to, which is what they've been doing for the past few days, Te Urewera Board chairman Tmati Kruger said.

    "The entirepopulation of the country is now in self-isolation.

    "We must emphasise thatTe Urewera is not suitable for self-isolation... we see Te Urewera as a single living system, and tangata whenua and manuhiri have a special place in it.

    "Our role as kaitiaki in this case means keeping people safe and ensuring this closure is respected."


    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand was at Covid-19 alert level three on Monday, and would progress to level four at 11.59pm on Wednesday.

    The iwi is also planning to limit areas available to visiting hunters in what is called the "roar season" as its where many iwi members gather food.

    The roar season iswhere stag are hunted, runningfor about four weeks from the end of March.

    All hut and camp bookings to June 30 will also be cancelled.

    Inthe East Cape, road blocksandcheckpoints have also been planned.

    Residents of Wharekahika will be stationed at Te Araroa Road between 8am and 6pm, from Wednesday 25 March to Wednesday 8 April.

    Longtime Hicks Bay community member AniPahiruHuriwai, of Te Puna Manaaki aRuataupare,said volunteers were planning to set up checkpoints tostop campervans and other unfamiliar vehicles at Te Araroa and Wharekahika (Hicks Bay).

    "We're a long way from anywhere. We're 180km away from our nearest hospital. We have no GPs here," Huriwai said.

    "A high percentage of our community would be immunocompromised, a high number of our people have diabetes, respiratory problems, or are cancer patients.

    "We really don't want visitors coming to our area, who may have come from overseas, we don't know, or who may not have been abiding by the 14-day self-isolation."

    Volunteers for the checkpointwill attend a five-hour training session on Tuesday.

    "We will be going through protocols for the checkpoint and for keeping ourselves safe from Covid-19."

    Dozens of marae across the country have also closed their doors, even for tangihanga, including several from Te Arawa, around the Rotorua/Bay of Plenty area, and even further south including Te Toke Marae, 23km from Taup.

    Aotearoa Fisheries Limited, the largest Mori-owned seafood company in New Zealand, has long supplied fish for tangihanga at Te Arawa marae.

    Because of the closures, they decided to allocate 10kg of fish to tangi not held at the marae, a spokesman said.

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    Coronavirus: Iwi across NZ step up tourist blockades, close huts and walkways -

    Italy has a world-class health system. The coronavirus has pushed it to the breaking point. – NBC News - March 25, 2020 by admin

    Overnight, the normally bustling streets of cities like Milan and Venice were deserted, their sprawling piazzas and picturesque walkways silent and devoid of people.

    Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

    But this tranquility betrayed a very different reality for Italians at the front lines of the pandemic.

    "It seems relaxed because everyone is staying inside and people are cooking and looking at old photos and doing work at home," said Francesco Longo, director of the Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management at Bocconi University in Milan. "But in the hospitals, it's like a war."

    D'Antiga said that at his hospital, almost half of the 1,000 beds are dedicated to treating patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Most other operations at the hospital have scaled back significantly or ground to a halt.

    Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts about the coronavirus outbreak

    "In the gastroenterology ward, internal medicine and other wards, they have to send away patients and only admit those with COVID-19 even in the neurology ward," D'Antiga said. "We have 20 to 30 patients coming in every day requiring admission, but we've run out of beds. It's a really difficult situation."

    What makes the situation even worse is that some of the beds are being used to treat medical personnel themselves.

    "Here, probably 20 to 30 percent of health care professionals got infected," D'Antiga said. "In my department, I have 25 pediatricians, and currently 10 are off sick. This is the same in other departments, and it's a major challenge."

    Although the majority of those who have tested positive so far have experienced mild symptoms, the most serious cases can result in respiratory failure. Nearly 13,000 of Italy's coronavirus patients are hospitalized with symptoms, and of those, more than 2,000 are under intensive medical care, straining hospitals' resources.

    D'Antiga said 80 of the 100 beds in his hospital's intensive care unit are occupied by coronavirus patients hooked up to ventilators, but hospitals are rapidly running out of beds and the equipment needed to keep patients alive.

    The limited resources are forcing doctors to make excruciating decisions about whom to treat and who may be beyond help.

    Although cases vary, doctors typically take into account a patient's age and condition, which is standard practice even without being in the midst of a pandemic, according to D'Antiga. So far, he said, doctors are mostly heeding the same criteria when they do have to make tough choices.

    "Outside of an epidemic, if a 90-year-old person comes in with severe pneumonia, we likely wouldn't admit the patient into intensive care and intubate them," D'Antiga said. "We do have to select, unfortunately, but at the moment, at least we don't have to select among those who would have been treated in normal times."

    But that could change, he added. And as the virus spreads, the heart-wrenching situation in Lombardy could be intensified in other regions of Italy and in other countries.

    Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

    "What we're seeing in Italy is what we're likely to start seeing in hospitals around the world in the coming weeks and months," said Yascha Mounk, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "One of the characteristics of this disease is it has a very long incubation period. It takes a long time for it to start overburdening the health care system, but once it starts, the increase is very rapid."

    In Venice, a doctor in the region's main hospital who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that she and her colleagues are already treating 92 coronavirus patients but that they are anticipating an onslaught still to come.

    "We are struggling, but we know we are not in the worst moment of the outbreak," she said. "To work in these conditions is really exhausting. Everyone is feeling mentally exhausted."

    Her hospital has already created improvised ICUs, and doctors and nurses across the northeast are being deployed to vulnerable areas. Resources in and around Venice, which has had even more time to prepare than Lombardy, are already becoming strained.

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    Italy has a world-class health system. The coronavirus has pushed it to the breaking point. - NBC News

    UPDATE 3 | Around The Parks: Coping With Coronavirus, March 24 – National Parks Traveler - March 25, 2020 by admin

    Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks closed to all visitors Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic/NPS file, Jacob W. Frank

    Editor's note: This updates with road closures at Mount Rainier National Park.

    Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks announced Tuesday afternoon that they would close to all visitors. The announcement came hours after Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials, unable to discourage visitors from coming into the park, announced that they would close most of the park to the public in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus. That was followed by news that the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway would close, and Mount Rainier National Park officials said they were closing all roads into their park.

    The National Park Service listened to the concerns from our local partners and, based on current health guidance, temporarily closed the parks, said Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and Grand Teton Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail in a joint statement. We are committed to continued close coordination with our state and local partners as we progress through this closure period and are prepared when the timing is right to reopen as quickly and safely as possible.

    Sholly had said Monday night that the park staff had received "a substantial number requests to temporarily close, from state and local partners, including the governors of Montana and Wyoming, health officials from all surrounding counties, and local government leadership."

    Under the parks' closures, there will be no visitor access permitted to either park. State highways and/or roads that transcend park/state boundaries and facilities that support life safety and commerce will remain open. Both parks will cooperate on the implementation of the closures.

    Across the country at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials said their decision to close most of the park stemmed from daily crowds averaging roughly 30,000 people that resulted "in congested conditions at popular locations, such as Laurel Falls, Newfound Gap, and Cades Cove. Visitors from across the country have flocked to the area due to spring break, wildflowers, and warm weather conditions."

    Just after 9 a.m. local time Tuesday a park release said that "all park areas, except the Foothills Parkway and the Spur, will close at noon on Tuesday, March 24, through Monday, April 6."

    "The park will continue to assess changing conditions in our region and work with local communities to extend or terminate closures, as appropriate to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local residents," the statement said.

    Late Tuesday morning officials at Blue Ridge Parkway announced that "the southernmost 14 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Milepost 455 to 469, will close effective immediately in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and in coordination with travel restrictions in place from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Great Smoky Mountains Park."

    At Mount Rainier,all park roads to public vehicle access closed at 1:30 p.m. local time. "This closure will prohibit all vehicles, including cars, buses, motorcycles and nonmotorized vehicles such as bicycles from entering the park," a park release said. "The parks main gate near Ashford will also be closed."

    At Shenandoah National Park, staff announced that all huts and cabins along the roughly 100 miles of Appalachian Trail in the park were closed.

    Sandra "Sandi" Marra, president and CEO of theAppalachian Trail Conservancy, made a personal plea that hikers stay off the A.T.

    "In a time when social distancing is necessary to minimize the spread and contraction of a dangerous virus, many have escaped to nature seeking isolation and unpopulated spaces. On the A.T., however, what theyve found are trailhead parking lots exceeding their maximum capacities, shelters full of overnight hikers, day hikers using picnic tables and privies, and group trips continuing as planned," she said. "Popular spots along the Trail like Blood Mountain in Georgia, the McAfee Knob area in Virginia, and Annapolis Rocks in Maryland have seen day use reach record-breaking levels. Cars line the highways leading to popular day-hiking spots on the Trail. Hiking the A.T. has become, in other words, the opposite of social distancing.

    "These same crowds accessing the A.T. may not know how a simple half-day hike can spread COVID-19. While hiking, they may have eaten lunch at a picnic table, taken a break in a shelter, used a privy, or shared a map or food with someone unknowingly infected with COVID-19 and carried this highly contagious virus back to their communities at the end of the day," she went on. "They may not have realized that ATC staff and trail volunteers have been recalled from the A.T. and cannot maintain the footpath, trailheads, shelters and privies that may be heavily (or permanently) impacted by increased visitor use. And, they may not be aware of the rural communities adjacent to the trail that may not have the healthcare resources to help a sick hiker or volunteer or manage a COVID-19 outbreak should a hiker transport the virus in from the trail.

    "There is an unfortunate truth about this virus: unless everyone is safe, no one is safe. So, take a walk around the block. Spend time with your loved ones. And, please, stay home."

    Also on Tuesday, officials at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia and the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River in Pennsylvania announced only essential personnel were being kept on the job.

    "These are extraordinary times. The unprecedented steps our society and community are taking in the name of public health will inevitably entail some unwanted physical impacts on the park itself. Grass will not be mowed. The National Cemetery may soon be in a state that at any other time would be unacceptable," said John Hennessy at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania. "If nature intervenes with storms or floods, we may have to close trails, scenic roads, or significant areas of the park. While unpleasant, all of these things are temporarythey can be remedied once the crisis passes. In the meantime, they constitute some of the burden we will all have to shoulder as we work our way, together, through this emergency."

    Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia announced Tuesday that all parking lots, buildings, facilities, and trails in the park were closed. Virgin Islands National Park on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, announced expansion of previously announced closures:

    *The Cruz Bay Visitor Center is closed. Information and services will not be available.

    * The park dock and bulkhead at the Cruz Bay Visitor Center is closed to commercial activity.

    * No more than two individuals may occupy a dinghy when travelling to or from the NPS dock.

    * All restrooms and porta johns in the park are closed.

    * Guided hikes and other on-site public or educational programs are cancelled.

    * Food service and watersports rentals at Trunk Bay will not be available.

    * The park will not issue special visitor use or business permits.

    * Trash will not be collected. When visiting the park bring garbage bags so you can take your trash with you. Pack it in, pack it out!

    * Trash receptacles will not be available for boater trash. Boaters must make other arrangements for trash disposal. Do not leave trash on shore.

    * The pavilions at Trunk, Maho, and Hawksnest Bays are closed, as are changing rooms and showers.

    * The park will not operate or provide restrooms, maintain roads or walkways.

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    UPDATE 3 | Around The Parks: Coping With Coronavirus, March 24 - National Parks Traveler

    Men accused of creating explosions to rob ATMs in 2 states – - March 25, 2020 by admin

    TAMPA, Fla. Two men are facing federal charges in Florida for using small explosions to rob ATMs in the Tampa Bay area, authorities said Monday.

    The U.S. Attorneys Office in Tampa has charged Mawdo Malick Sallah, 33, of Clearwater, Florida, and Kirk Douglas Johnson, 34, of Anderson, South Carolina, with conspiring to commit arson. They each face up to 20 years in prison.

    Sallah and Johnson took nearly $70,000 from several Florida ATMs between November and January and vandalized others without taking any cash, according to a criminal complaint. Investigators believe the men injected some type of flammable fuel into the machines and used a spark to ignite it. The men were arrested Sunday after setting off an explosion at an ATM in Watkinsville, Georgia, prosecutors said. That ATM was damaged, but Sallah and Johnson were unable to retrieve any cash, authorities said.

    Online court records didnt list attorneys for Sallah or Johnson.

    The Associated Press

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    Men accused of creating explosions to rob ATMs in 2 states -

    Whats New on the Lake for 2020 – Mexico Ledger - March 14, 2020 by admin

    Each year new gadgets, designs, and features drive boaters to trade in, trade up, or just turn their heads and appreciate the coolest new thing.

    The well-spring of human ingenuity does not skip the boating fraternity. Each year new gadgets, designs, and features drive boaters to trade in, trade up, or just turn their heads and appreciate the coolest new thing. In 2020 local dealers will be promoting toys for riders and dockers.

    On the WaterTwo sports similar to waterskiing, wakeboarding and wakesurfing, each work best with specific shaped wakes. Boats capable of custom tailoring the wake for each watersport are now available, according to Ryan Moriearty, retail manager at Wake Effects by Big Thunder Marine. These watersport boats are all lumped under the general heading of tow boats meaning they are not only designed to gain the maximum performance advantage for the person riding the wake, but also to provide the safest environment for those in the water behind the boat. This generally means a V-drive instead of an outboard motor or even an inboard/outboard setup. With a V-drive, the propeller is located under the hull, safely away from lines and legs. Having the prop under the hull means steering is accomplished with a rudder instead of an outdrive unit. More responsive rudder steering means the crafts handling characteristics are more like a car than a boat.Tow boats have very specific spots where ballast can be added to keep the bow higher in relation to the stern creating more wake at the speeds required for wakeboarding or wakesurfing. This ballast movement is accomplished by pumping water from one tank to another to create the specific wake desired and is automated from the control station. In addition, Ryan points out, brands like MasterCraft tow boats handled by Wake Effects are equipped with plates on the transom to shape the wake to a specific profile custom designed for each rider being towed. MasterCrafts Gen 2 Surf System automates this process with push-button ease and can be changed on the fly without tussle or tools. And to ensure maximum performance, the plate system is specifically designed for each model of MasterCraft boat.Docking and parking assist, common on larger cruisers, are now available on tow boats, too. Some even include a bow thruster for total joy-stick maneuvering during docking. In addition, cruise control on tow boats allows the captain to focus more on the person in the water and neighboring craft instead of the throttle. On the electronic side of boating, many of the new model tow boats come with Bluetooth capability to fully integrate the helm station screens with action cameras such as GoPro. Some even have the camera already built into the hull design. Trista Vossman, of Big Thunder Marine, says one of the coolest comfort features this year is really designed to keep the boater cool through a misting system producing a fine water mist from above for those on board. Trista also points to the growing use of counter rotating props on many models in order to reduce the effect of torque steer on the boat created by a single prop rotating. New in 2020, Big Thunder offers the Crest tri-toon Continental model equipped with two Suzuki 350 HP outboard motors utilizing twin counter-rotating prop technology.Chad Neubauer, of Formula Boats, sees more custom colors being offered as the innovators at Formula are pushing the envelope on color choices. In addition, Chad says custom lighting and remote control of convenience features through smart device apps are gaining popularity. In fact, the higher-end Formula boats come with an iPad now for this purpose.The growing trend to more custom features includes an array of lighting options ranging from custom LED lighting under the tri-toon deck, underwater LED lights, to on-board lighting such as walk-way, cup holder, helm station and mood lighting in a rainbow of color options custom controllable by touch screen.While a joy to look at and use, it is important to keep in mind that any exterior lighting is illegal while the boat is underway as these beautiful light displays tend to mask the visibility of required navigation lights. Such lights inside the vessel are legal while the boat is moving. All custom lighting options are safe and legal while anchored or docked.Trevor Gardner, of Premier 54 Boat Sales, the number-one Chaparral dealer world-wide in 2019, points to the new Infinity Power Step on the Chaparral 257, 277, and 297 SSX series boats. Push-button operation deploys a set of steps extending 20 inches below the swim platform. Also new this year, the Chaparral 280 OSX is designed for rough water. As a hybrid center console, the 280 OSX offers a large open bow, seating, and amenities for a large group of people. The trend toward center console boats will only continue according to Big Thunder Marine Sales Director Thad Jameson. He explained that as popularity grows, manufacturers are rapidly adapting new and innovative ideas for this boat layout. In what was once the go-to boat for fishermen, equipped with bait stations as well as tackle and rod holders, the center console now sports summer kitchens and luxurious lounge seating. Cabins are also more luxurious, and upholsteries richer. Thad says Chris Craft, Fountain, and Statement have all raised the bar on this boat layout because of the rapid growth for this segment of the market.High-tech innovations continue to grow across other segments of the boating market, including tri-toons. Joy-sticks and rear-facing cameras simplify the difficulties of docking. Touch screens at the helm station not only include GPS plotters but now link to the engine management systems allowing the captain to monitor engine function at the touch of the screen.Teresa Riley, Marketing and Event Coordinator at MarineMax, says remote monitoring is gaining in popularity. It provides security by notification to a smart device in case of boat movement due to anchor drift or attempted theft. Owners also receive notifications about maintenance issues such as battery condition, bilge pump monitoring, and engine hours tracking. Boat Fix, available at MarineMax, provides (in addition to the above list) mechanical and technical assistance on a live telephone call if needed.According to Teresa, MarineMax also handles Seakeeper, an anti-roll gyro that can be retro-fitted to almost any boat or ordered as an option on a new boat. Seakeeper is installed on all Azimut yachts sold by MarineMax. Measuring approximately two feet by two feet by two feet and weighing slightly over 400 pounds, the smallest Seakeeper unit is designed for boats from 27 to 35 feet. While not an inexpensive option, the Seakeeper eliminates up to 95 percent of roll, both side-to-side and front-to-back. Any Saturday morning on the lower end of the Lake would demonstrate the advantage to a boater. A busy afternoon coving out will be calmer.Whether controlled by a cell phone app or a touch screen at the helm, boat decks are virtually awash with technological innovations in boating. It appears most of the new trending innovations in the boating world are electronic in nature.

    On the DockWhile amenities abound on the water, life on the dock for both boat and boat owner have some cool stuff trending at the Lake. Safety, convenience, comfort, and fun drive the innovations on docks.Theresa Fears of Aqua Pest Solutions describes the growing popularity of their chemical-free pest control solution for boat docks. Utilizing a blend of essential oils, this product beats back the spider hoards on Lake without the use of dangerous chemicals.Shelby Burns at Rough Water Docks says the growing popularity of their custom-built swim-up dock steps prove their value again and again. Giving not only an easier path back on the dock, the steps offer additional seating for those wishing to dip their toes in while sipping a glass of wine and slowly watching the sun set on the Lake. Since a dock sits up high off the water, these steps get you closer allowing you to hang out without having to get all the way into the water a great way to enhance the lake-life experience. According to Angie Schuster at Summerset Boat Lifts, docks and lifts have changed to match the growth of boats on the Lake. When smaller boats are on wider lifts, reaching or stepping to the boat can create a hazard. Summerset installs custom walkways providing ease of access for loading, covering, or maintenance. Walkways can be installed at the rear of the boat to access the motor or drive units. Although not a new concept in 2020, this useful option has seen great growth at the Lake.When the sun hits the water, and the boats come out to play in 2020, there will be plenty of new ideas and new gadgets causing boaters to say, I gotta get me one of those!

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    Whats New on the Lake for 2020 - Mexico Ledger

    How Coronavirus Is Impacting Disney World and Disneyland – TravelPulse - March 14, 2020 by admin

    UPDATE: March 12, 8:30 PM ET -

    Disney has now announced it will officially close Disney World because of coronavirus concerns.

    UPDATE: March 12, 5:30 PM ET -

    Disneyland has officially announced it will temporarily close due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    Trending Now

    With the busy spring break season upon us and COVID-19, aka novel coronavirus, today declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, families with plans to head to Walt Disney World and Disneyland have a lot of questions about how the virus could or should impact their travel plans.

    Internationally, four Disney parks remain closed in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai, although Shanghai has begun reopening its shopping and dining district. A Disneyland Paris worker tested positive for coronavirus but that park remains open.

    Domestically, Walt Disney World and Disneyland also remain open for business. Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement on the Disney Parks Blog that Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort are open and welcoming guests and we continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local health agencies.

    What Steps Is Disney Taking to Keep the Parks Safe?

    In her statement, Hymel detailed the additional steps Disney is taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other diseases in the parks, including frequent cleaning and disinfection of targeted areas, easy access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers, and frequent cleaning of outdoor locations, including walkways and queue.

    Hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout the parks, and today new portable handwashing stations began showing up at Walt Disney World. Disney has published the locations of many of the hand sanitizer stations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. (Update: As of March 12, Disney has updated the Walt Disney World MyDisneyExperience app and the Disneyland app to map hand sanitizer locations within the parks and resorts as well as locations where guests can get more information about COVID-19.)

    Should Travelers Keep Their Plans to Visit Disney Parks and Resorts?

    Its well known by now that the CDC is recommending that high-risk individuals, mainly older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential air travel.

    But, for healthy individuals, it remains more of a personal choice. A statement by a coalition of 150 travel-related organizations issued by the U.S. Travel Association seeks to reassure healthy travelers:

    Though the headlines may be worrisome, experts continue to say the overall coronavirus risk in the U.S. remains low. At-risk groups are older individuals and those with underlying health conditions, who should take extra precautions. The latest expert guidance indicates that for the overwhelming majority, its OK to live, work, play and travel in the U.S.

    A Doctors Take

    We asked Dr. Colleen Nash, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Rush University Children's Hospital and Medical Director of the Pediatrics Antimicrobial Stewardship Program for her advice on how families should decide whether to take a Disney vacation. She recommends families evaluate the potential outcomes.

    Visiting a theme park or partaking in any activity involving very large crowds always poses a risk of (any) infection transmission, she says. She suggests those considering travel evaluate the health of those in their party as well as family members back home and how illness could potentially affect them.

    Even for healthy individuals, she recommends considering how coronavirus infection (if it were to happen) could impact your family and if that is a tolerable risk and potential time away from school, work, normal daily activities, say, if you had to undergo quarantine.

    For those comfortable with those possible outcomes, there arent currently any official recommendations that go against proceeding with travel plans.

    Whats It Like to Be at Walt Disney World Right Now

    I visited Walt Disney World last week and found almost no discernible difference in the experience from other times Ive visited the parks. This week, aside from the noticeable uptick in hand-sanitizing stations and handwashing stations, it feels like business as usual for vacationing families. Meet-and-greets, buffet meals, and other higher-contact experiences havent been reduced.

    Len Matela of Western Springs, Illinois, is currently at Walt Disney World with his wife and three sons and said the main difference their family noticed was that guests were utilizing personal hand sanitizer and hand-sanitizing stations more frequently.

    Were not germaphobes so its not stressing us out, Matela says. If you didnt watch the news or look at your phone and continuously see new information about the virus spreading, you wouldnt notice any changes.

    Matela says concerns about the virus havent impacted their vacation at all. Were having a blast, he says, noting that worries dont seem to have had an effect on crowd levels yet. Selfishly we were hoping for smaller lines and less of a crowd!!

    What If Disney Does Decide to Close Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

    Should the spread of coronavirus or official government recommendations lead the domestic parks to make the decision to close, as was the case in Asia, its safe to assume Disney will offer refunds of park tickets and resort stays, as theyve done in Asia. Should guests electively cancel a Disney vacation, standard resort cancellation terms will apply. Park tickets are changeable but non-refundable.

    Now that most major airlines have issued waivers and have given travelers the flexibility and peace of mind to change their flights without fees, guests who are planning or looking forward to planned Disney vacations should feel reassured that any official park closures will likely see them fully reimbursed or able to change their vacation plans without fees.

    How to Stay Healthy During Your Disney Vacation

    We asked Dr. Nash what families can do to stay healthy during a Disney trip, and they are much the same as recommendations youve been hearing across the news mediamainly, wash your hands!

    She recommends frequent, meticulous handwashing or hand sanitizing before and after meals and regularly at the parks, particularly after each ride.

    I cannot stress enough the importance of washing your hands (and doing it well, at least 20 seconds, with soap and water OR using alcohol-based hand sanitizer) and not touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth), she says. This provides so much protection against many infectious diseases and cannot be overstated.

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    How Coronavirus Is Impacting Disney World and Disneyland - TravelPulse

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