Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Catskills

Report or discuss current events in the Catskill Mountains.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Catskills

New postby dave » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:46 pm

The Coronavirus can be found throughout the Catskill Mountains. Unfortunately there have been many hikers from NYC. On weekends, it was estimated that that 95% were from NYC and the surrounding area. Some would do their grocery shopping before returning to the city. Sadly, this caused COVID-19 cases in Saugerties, Cairo, Durham, Windham, and Hunter.

As of March 28, 2020, trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week, to local residents only. Police are pulling over cars outside the area to find out where they are going. Our local hospitals are at capacity, and turning away people who live outside the area. If you hike with others, make sure that they are within the same household. If you encounter others on the trail stay 6' or more apart. Move off the trail to let others hike past you. If you do not feel healthy, stay home!

Many of our local Rangers have been reassigned to helping with the Coronavirus. So, people who get themselves into trouble can expect a longer reaction time. Most local hikers have been staying off the higher peaks and difficult bushwhacks.

Hopefully in a month or two things will return to normal, so everyone can enjoy the Catskill Mountains. Everyone needs to be safe, and stay healthy.

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Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Catskills

New postby dundee » Mon Apr 06, 2020 9:37 pm

What trails are they closing to "outsiders"? What is a local? What is an outsider? Are these Forest Preserve trails? If so, they belong to everyone in NYS. I don't think it would be legal to shut out people from outside a certain distance. Can police tell me to leave public property while allowing others?
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Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Catskills

New postby dave » Thu Apr 09, 2020 11:37 pm

Gov Cuomo has signed quite a few Executive Order in the last month. Mandatory closing of all businesses except for essential services. There is also a Stay-at-Home order which includes:

Remain indoors;
Can go outside for solitary exercise;
Pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms;
Do not visit households with multiple people;
Wear a mask when in the company of others;
To the greatest extent possible, everyone in the presence of vulnerable people should wear a mask;
Always stay at least six feet away from individuals; and
Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary.

If you live locally to the Catskills you can go hiking as long as you hike with immediate family or solo. If you live in NYC or NJ, that would not be local. There have been a number of COVID-19 cases caused by people coming up from NYC to the Catskills. There has also been a SAR of a hiker who become ill with COVID-19 symptoms during a long hike, and had to be carried out of the forest. Local hospitals are beyond capacity and will refuse medical help to anyone outside the area. It has also been requested that people not hike the higher peaks, and stay close to their cars to prevent an incident.

The area around Kaaterskill Falls is closed. This includes all parking areas nearby, along with trails that lead to KF. North-South Lake Campground region is also closed. If people from NYC continue to come in large numbers, then the entire Catskills will be closed.

Gov Cuomo and/or the DEC can legally close part or all the forest. It happen with Hurricane Irene in 2010. Yes, they can ask you to leave, and they can fine you $1000 for not complying with social distancing.

Local government has been very accommodating. But, there is a significant concern that the people outside the region could cause a COVID-19 virus hot spot. If that did occur, the Catskill will probably be closed until 2021. Right now there are cases in both Greene and Ulster county. Most of the cases are being contained. Greene County is the poorest county in the state. Many people don't have health insurance. Right now everyone is on lock-down. The last thing they need is for the region to become a hot spot. This would extend the lock-down for another 3-4 months. Then in the Fall, the Covid-19 virus is expected to come back, and the lock-down would continue.

Unfortunately, 95% of the hikers in the Catskills on the weekend are from NYC or NJ. Many don't care what happens to local residents. But, to be fair, 95% of the residents of NYC and NJ are complying with the orders. It is only a few that are causing problems.

If you do hike here, stay away from popular trails and regions. Don't hike too far into the woods, or pick difficult hikes. Exercise good judgment, and social distance in the rare case you encounter someone else on a remote hike.
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Re: Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Catskills

New postby dave » Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:03 am

While most of the country is seeing the number of cases flatten out, this is not the case for Greene County. Over the weekend, the number of cases has tripled. This is caused by the "Tourist Effect". This was first observed in the Colorado Ski Towns. The cases in those small towns exploded as people from around the country visited. This resulted in the closing of all ski resorts nationwide. Then some of the National Parks also closed.

If Greene County continues to have a large increase in cases, we can expect to see the hiking regions closed for months. It is very important that people wait a little longer before hiking in groups. If you do hike, pick isolated hikes that few people visit.
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