Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Seattle Parks without Parking, Washington Beaches without Beachcombers

If you want to drive to a major Seattle park, you will not be able to park there.

And if you are looking forward to a walk on a Washington State ocean beach, forget it.  The beaches are off limits.

And at many parks you will be hectored and bullied in way that is contradictory to the values of a free society.


Why?

Because some public officials believe, with virtually no evidence or basis in science, that these restrictions on outdoor areas are promoting public safety.   These politicians and bureaucrats may mean well, but, in reality, they are harming many of those they wish to assist.  They are also working against the most progressive values of our community, taking actions that are inconsistent with the essential principles of our democracy.

There is minimal risk of coronavirus spread outdoors.  That is science.

This is not speculation or wishful thinking but based on the scientific literature, observational evidence, and fact-based logic. I reviewed some of the literature in my April 18th blog post and there has been more recent research during the past few months. For example, recent lab studies carried out by the U.S. Army’s high-level biosecurity laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md. (see below) found that the virus survived for only 2 minutes on a surface and as an aerosol droplet for only 90 seconds during the summer.  And noted in my earlier blog, there is no documented example of COVID transmission in the outside air and there are many reasons for this, including the effects of solar ultraviolet radiation, the higher relative humidity, and the huge potential for dispersion (and thus low concentrations) in the vast quantity of outside air, enhanced by outdoor wind.


Lifetime of COVID-19 based on the latest research by the U.S. Army’s high-level biosecurity laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md

Furthermore, exposure to the sun  results in the production of Vitamin-D, which increasing number of studies have shown enhances our immune system in its battle to fight off the virus. Outdoor exercise also strengthens the immune system and there are substantial psychological benefits to visiting parks and natural areas, which also enhances our ability to fight off disease.  And parks provide huge areas for social distancing.

So, if elected officials and government agencies are concerned about the impact of coronavirus on the population, they should make it a priority to ensure that citizens have easy access to outdoor areas.  Unfortunately, the opposite has been the case.

Seattle Parks and Parking

Take the Seattle's Parks and Recreation Department.   During Easter weekend, they closed all the big Seattle parks, forcing residents into smaller, crowded neighborhood parks.  And over the past months Seattle has closed the parking lots of the big parks, including Magnuson, Green Lake, Discovery, Lincoln, and Seward.

The result of the Seattle Park's parking blockade has been a great reduced reduction in park usage, with all the attendant negative health impacts.   Those who wish to drive to their favorite park are forced to park far away, often in crowded situations, and frequently must walk close together on limited (and crowded) access paths.

Far fewer elderly and mobility-impaired people have been unable to enjoy the parks as result of the parking ban.  To note one concerning case, last week I viewed an elderly couple walking haltingly towards Magnuson Park, at least 1/4 mile away (see picture).  They were having a hard time.  In the past, some mobility-impaired folks would drive to the park and just stay in their cars, enjoying the wonderful view and fresh air.  Or perhaps put out a few lawn chairs.   No longer.

An elderly couple had a long walk to get to the park.  A very long walk.

And the demographics of Magnuson Park visitors (and visitors to other major parks) have changed radically.  During normal times, there was a wonderful multicultural mix.  Lower-income folks who lived in apartments could drive to the park to enjoy a wide expanse of grass and water.  Many would bring chairs, tables, barbecues, and more, making an entire of day of it.

No longer.  Picnicking and barbecuing are forbidden.   Hundreds of signs tell people to "KEEP IT MOVING"  and the limited number of people in the park no longer represent the diversity of our community.   To put it more bluntly, the folks living near our large waterfront parks (e.g., Magnuson, Discovery, Carkeek, etc.) tend to be far richer and less diverse than the "interior" of the city.  The big parks are the "neighborhood" parks of the well-to-do.

So, we have a major American city that has put into place measures that reduces park access for lower income, more heavily minority communities, the mobility impaired, and the elderly, and leaves the best parks for higher income folks.  Does this sound consistent with "progressive" values?  Maddeningly, such restrictions are totally inconsistent with scientific knowledge about the virus.  They are arbitrary and wrong.

And folks, it is even worse than that.  Recently, the Parks and Recreation Department decided to kick folks out of the large parks at 8 PM (see sign).   Here are some science facts for them to consider:   sunset today is 8:37 PM and soon will be after 9 PM.  It is quite light for at least a half-hour after sunset.  

So, no sunset views for Seattle park goers at Carkeek, Golden Gardens, Lincoln or Discovery parks, to name only a few.  No enjoyment of the sublime views and pleasant conditions at the end of the day. And their sign was very deceptive, making one think the park was closed.  The red sign is not very subtle:  Seattle Parks Department does not want you there.


Washington State Beaches Are Closed

Closing of the State beaches (and the wonderful State parks along the Columbia Gorge), has to be one of the strangest and most counterproductive decisions made by government officials of Washington State in a long time.

The beaches offer vast areas for social distancing and lots of wind, meaning that dilution of the virus would be extreme.  Plus, high humidity, which is proven to inhibit the spread of the virus. 

Based on the unphysical and unscientific supposition  that a few people might be too close on the beaches and spread the virus (which is virtually impossible in that environment), the State is preventing EVERYONE from enjoying the beaches.  Such silly measures were also put in place in California.  Just irrational decision-making.

The Serious Policy Issue:  Decision Making in A Democracy and Collective Punishment

But just as problematic as the rejection of science and the misguided restrictions of Seattle Parks and the State of Washington is how these decisions are being made and the demeaning ways the messages are being delivered.

Look at the signs place around Seattle Parks.   Warning that crowded parks will lead to closed parks!  If too many people, desperately in need to get out into the fresh air, visit the parks, Seattle Parks and Recreation will close the parks!


And the signs make it clear, that they will be watching to ensure compliance.  Other signs warn to keep moving! (see below), or note that picnicking is forbidden.  Don't even think about stopping to enjoy the view or enjoy a snack on a blanket or bench.


The State parks have similar threats.


What we have here is the threat of collective punishment if a few people "break the rules" created by some misguided elected officials or city/state bureaucrats.   Everyone will suffer if a few kids gather too closely or some of the "unwoken" have an illicit picnic.  

This kind of communal punishment is exactly the favored approach of totalitarian regimes, such as in Maoist China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea.  Our Parks Department even encourages you to report on those defying the ban and provide telephone numbers and email addresses (206 684-4075 or pks_info@seattle.gov.).  Reporting on one's neighbor and friends has always been a potent tool of totalitarian regimes, as is scaring the population to make them more pliable, which is going on now in a major way.
An activity forbidden in a Seattle Park

There are dangers to our democratic institutions in the way the coronavirus situation is being handled, both regarding the parks and otherwise.

Some elected official and government agencies are taking on enormous powers to restrain movement, to enforce lockdowns, to forbid gatherings, to close parks, and even restrict the "peaceful assembly" protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   One could imagine that such enormous powers could be abused by an individual wishing to gain control of a society.  I am NOT suggesting that any of current leaders have such intent, but this is a potentially dangerous precedent.  Personally, I would be far more comfortable if such draconian measures were required to be directly approved by our state legislators or city councils.   Such democratic checks on executive power does exist in some states.

Huge play fields are closed

The Bottom Line:  End Restrictions on Our Parks and Beaches

The decisions to close beaches and parks, or restrict access to them, has been misguided.  There is no evidence of a threat of outdoor transmission in parks and natural areas, even when folks are gathered in activities such as picnicking and barbecuing.  There is strong scientific evidence for the lack of threat and powerful fact-based arguments that outdoor air is safe (e.g., dispersion by winds, UV radiation killing virus, higher humidity).   The policies in Seattle and Washington State have particularly hurt low-income, elderly, and mobility-restricted populations, and are contradictory to the progressive policies favored by many.  The restrictions have been wielded in a heavy-handed, undemocratic way with totalitarian overtones, and have been conceived and effected in a way contradictory to those of a democratic society.

In short, the restrictions on our beaches and parks should be removed immediately.

If you agree, perhaps you might express your views to those constraining park access.  Some contact information is found below:

Seattle Parks:
Phone: 206 684-4075
Email: pks_info@seattle.gov

Washington State Parks
Phone: 360-902-8844
Email: infocent@parks.wa.gov


78 comments:

  1. Hear Hear! Thank you for being a voice of reason Cliff! :-)

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    1. Excellent treatise on this subject!...but I cannot agree with the idea that barbeques and picnics are safe...such gatherings encourage a certain closeness, and certainly would present at least a modest risk....My takeaway on all this is--open the parks, but keep most all of the signs...the signs are rude, but might remind some impulsive types to keep a certain distance, even though they are in a minimal risk situation...the idea is to try to eliminate ALL risk! Virtually no risk, implies that is a small risk, and I for one, do not even want to encounter such a risk...Now, pardon me, while I crawl back under my bed, and hug my teddy bear!..lol.

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  2. I’m very concerned about civil liberties. I also think any decision to reopen, and how to re open, should be based in science.

    If parks are completely safe, and distance doesn't matter outside, why are they attempting to restrict public gatherings?

    My guess is, at worst, it is a misguided attempt to save human lives and get the infection rate down enough for long enough to re open society as fast and safely as possible.

    I don’t think it is responsible to compare misguided mitigation efforts with totalitarian or nazi dogma. No one is trying to quell human rights, they are trying to save human lives. Please don’t forget that.

    If you have valuable science to bring to policy discussions and the clout or platform to sway decisions, please do so.

    Just remember that there is no faceless evil or corrupt officials cackling at the misfortune of the elderly. They are trying to save those folks from a very very sad fate you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy... Maybe a summer without everything we are used to is a price I’m willing to pay, even if it wasn’t necessary in hindsight. If you were in their shoes, I’m pretty sure you would weigh on the side of caution. Please share the science you are willing to bet all our lives on so we can get back to playing in parks again.

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    1. If there is no good scientific reason for doing something it is a violation of human rights and the science shows that you can safely go outside staying inside all the time might actually make the problem alittle worse.

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  3. Very good column and thank you. Add the Ballard Locks to the closure list. In a city where every water crossing is important (note the high-level West Seattle Bridge), the Locks' continued closure by the Corps of Engineers blocks normal access by nearby residents. It's a key crossing for pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists. On Facebook, the Locks' account tells me they're following federal guidance. Unfortunately, that situation is very similar to the excessive limitations that Cliff Mass fairly describes in this post.

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  4. Really - you pulled the Nazi card and equated the parks closure to actions that lead to the holocaust? Way to instantly turn off anyone who may have actually been listening to your argument.

    Although i agree with all your evidence towards the benefits of being at the park... you pose no measures for getting to the parks respectfully or safely other than open parking lots (so car centric thinking but those with mobility issues or economic issues who need to use more close quartered busses are putting themselves at an increases risk until all bus riders are mandated to wear masks... and lets not even talk about ferry lines and parking areas... there needs to be measures in place to ensure these denser periods and increased potential for contact are managed well too... and since we can barely manage contact tracing as is... discouraging all non-essential travel albeit draconian, is really the simplest start).
    Lets get all our other tools in place... rapid testing, individual temperature testing at entryways, public masks, contact tracing, and other methods and then open the parks.

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    1. "...you pose no measures for getting to the parks respectfully or safely other than open parking lots"

      That would get a lot more people to the parks. Which you are opposed to without ridiculous measures that would make it impossible to open the parks. Isn't it great that our government can make something as simple as opening a park impossible because "discouraging all non-essential travel albeit draconian, is really the simplest start"?

      Simple solution to everything: when you have the power, you can do anything you want.

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    2. To be fair to Cliff, he did edit the post to remove any reference to Nazi Germany. Instead he replace it with Nazi Germany with Maoist China. Now he's only equating parks closure with the kind of collective punishment employed by authoritarian leftist regimes that murdered tens of millions of people in Asia. It's a much more accurate metaphor now because Seattle is run by socialists.

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    3. Holy molly, Cliff you actually approved one of my comments! You do read them! I think it's hilarious that this is the one you approved though. You must have missed the sarcasm.

      I also think it's sad that you won't allow any comments that express any thing more than the most bland and weak criticism of your stance. For somebody who claims to be fighting for freedom, you seem awfully afraid of dissenting speech. You're a big boy, Cliff. Hell, you're a tenured professor at a prestigious university. How about you allow an actual debate in your comment section instead of only allowing the most sycophantic voices to speak?

      You're not afraid are you?

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    4. MissingRandom...I wish you would not call names. I don't do the moderation immediately... rather I do it in blocks when I have time...and get behind. I have a full time job..this blog is just an evening hobby...cliff

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  5. Thanks Cliff! Do you have a link to the Fort Detrick biosecurity lab study on outdoor virus half-life? Would like to cite that when emailing public officials on this topic.

    We also need to reopen National Forests and National Parks ASAP. I would support limits on high-density locations like Paradise or Snow Lake, maybe by blocking off some parking, but it is unreasonable to completely shut down vast swaths of outdoor space. These places are critical for getting outside while maintaining physical distancing.

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  6. I did not talk about the holocaust. But individual freedoms must be defended in each generation and the arbitrary, heavy handed approach of some government folks are not only contradictory to our best scientific knowledge, but takes us down an unfortunate road to loss of our basic rights as free citizens. And they are contradictory to progressive values. Parking lots are certainly used by cars...there is nothing wrong with that. But they have also been used by buses from retirement communities.. Wearing masks on buses is a good idea. Do that...don't restrict access to the parks

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    1. Isn't the right to criticize those in power one of the basic rights of free citizens? You have power over the discussion here. This is my fifth or sixth comment asking for the right to be heard. Why aren't you approving my comments? How many other voices are you suppressing?

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    2. I have noticed that sometimes the computer doesn't "remember" my comments. If the text does not disappear when you hit" Publish", then I think Cliff will not see it. One thing I don't understand is computers.

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  7. Completely agree with Dr. Mass. Political leadership has cleverly tried to defend its actions as scientific but in reality has fallen far short of real science. Look around the NATION and also notice this issue has turned political. People are dying and some see a chance to make political gains. Sick and disgusting!
    Be smart people!

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  8. I blame this on the governor.

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  9. Not only is the signage incredibly privileged (“exercise at home” - in your six person, two bedroom apartment? Sure.) but the lack of overall concern for public health is breathtaking. My ten year old is clinically obese, and loves to bike the Seward Park loop while I walk it. Now it’s closed to bicycles and there is no other suitable bike path for us. His doctor insists he move more, but how?

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  10. Cliff,

    As usual, science and common sense take a back seat to the "progressive" narrative. Woe to those who challenge that narrative.

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  11. Cliff, I love your weather info and contributions to the quality of sharing that info and pushing for improved buoys and meteorological technology. I think you’re missing the overall goal with closing beaches, etc. it’s not the actual spread at these locations as much as it’s the travel, getting gas, grocery shopping, then crowding at the beach.

    If people were better at self-policing lockdown could be a lot freer.

    All this talk of civil liberties and tyranny is overblown. It’s a temporary inconvenience.

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    1. "If people were better at self-policing lockdown could be a lot freer."

      Straight out of Orwell. Congratulations, that is perfect.

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    2. Absolutely.

      Nailed it. Especially this part:

      "If people were better at self-policing lockdown could be a lot freer."

      The fact is, many are doing a terrible job. It's prolonging this. And opening up parks and beaches will prolong it, and put people's lives in danger who are following guidelines.

      You have to save people from themselves.

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    3. "lockdown could be a lot freer"
      "all this talk of civil liberties and tyranny is overblown. It’s a temporary inconvenience"
      “you have to save people from themselves"

      Cliff laid out facts and stats and science to back up his position. All of it ignored and rejected and replaced with Orwellian speak in multiple posts up and down this comment section.

      The rejection of science is easy when it's not about science.

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    4. “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” battle of Ben Tre dispatch from the Vietnam War.

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  12. Mostly agree with your points (if not the overheated rhetoric). But you could at least mention that Inslee recently eased many of the state park restrictions.
    https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-announces-easing-outdoor-restrictions

    I wouldn't be surprised to see the beaches open next.

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  13. The city park argument resonates but I'm less sure the ocean beaches position.

    Isn't the real issue with the ocean beaches that you would have thousands of non-local residents transiting (expectedly from the higher COVID areas like King / Snohomish / Thurston counties) to these more rural areas and risking exposure to front-line workers along the way?

    The argument to open ocean beaches becomes more rational if you contain the use to local residents. But that approach then adds the need for an access control system which creates a new problem.

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    1. You don't need gas and supplies to get to the closest beaches 2 to 3 hours away. I understand no multi-day trips right now but I'm perfectly okay with filling an ice chest with food/topping off the gas tank at my local grocery store and doing a day trip someplace remote and pretty. If these rural businesses want me to stay away from them for a year or two until we have a vacine I can do that but I have a feeling they need the business and it would be better if they were allowed to operate with safety precautions in place.

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    2. We were up in Pend Oreille county last week to go hunting. The people there are more than fine with visitors patronizing their businesses; they said so multiple times while thanking us for our business.

      Start a drive for a ballot initiative to transfer power to the legislature/local legislative branch institutions to initiate future shutdowns. I'll sign on the spot.

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  14. Cliff, I nominate you for beach and park patrol. You can pick up garbage and human waste from our parks. Plus, you can go around and monitor groups that gather at our parks and beaches. At many of our parks, many people gather for birthdays, weddings and more. At many, if not most of these parks there are public bathrooms. Sure, you could close them, but then you would have some icky individuals turning our lovely parks and green places into human litter boxes. Then, there's the garbage... Garbage that has to be picked up; some science has said that the virus may live on for several days on various objects, therfore you would be possibly subjecting personell to not only C19, but various other infections. Those before us have gone through worse. It has been said: Tough times don't last, but tough people do. We have a society that wants immediate gratification rather than future satisfaction.

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  15. don't quit your day job, cliff. you have no idea what the public does at these parks. they don't practice social distancing. on trails, they don't step aside as you walk by. I don't care if you're outside or not...if you're closer than the CDC guidelines that's a bad thing.

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  16. Thanks for defending my Constitutional right to cough in your face.

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    1. You have the right, Steven, and presumably the latitude, to stay home and away from WA state parks if you feel you are in the riskiest segment of the population.

      Considering the low risk of spreading Covid-19 while being outside even near other people during summer conditions and the very significant collateral damage to a society not allowed to recreate, imposing your view of what will keep you safe is at best selfish behavior. And not politically sustainable, as even Democrats such as myself might find that voting for presumably Democratic politicians who allow these wrongheaded approaches to continue unpalatable. Such an approach may result in a disaster this fall, as wing nut Republicans get support they wouldn't otherwise.

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  17. Your argument has a couple of holes. The study you quoted does not take distancing into account. How far away do people have to be for the 90 seconds that the virus lives in the outdoors to make sure they are not exposed? Look at the pictures in the press of people at parks not following social distancing suggestions.

    A free society works best when people are not only responsible for their own well-being but also the well-being of others. It is not just about getting Covid-19 ourselves but also about giving it to others. When statistics show that one case of Covid-19 results in 1+ cases of Covid-19, the pandemic will never stop. The pictures of the crowds in the parks is a perfect example of selfish behavior and being an irresponsible member of our free society.

    Cliff, as I scientist, I expected you to look at the whole picture and not just the narrow point of view you are espousing. I now wonder if your weather reporting has the same narrow-minded limitations.

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    1. Non hikers see pictures of MT SI, Rattlesnake ledges and assume every trail is like that. The majority of trails are not like that it doesn't make sense to close everything because a few spots are overcrowded, if you close to many parks it forces people to congregate in the few that are left open. People will still go to the parks even if you close them.

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  18. Thanks Cliff, I agree. At least the state came to their senses and opened state lands to some recreation. Now if we could just get the forest service to open the trail heads (trails are open if you can get to them). This is their excuse: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest officials urge people to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and avoid putting undue pressure on medical and law enforcement services, especially in rural communities, in Central Washington, so we can all return to our outdoor adventures as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.

    To me this is ridiculous at this point. Most health care facilities are losing money and furloughing staff because they have nothing to do. Go figure. I was generally supportive of the stay at home orders to avoid undue pressure on health care workers but we pass that point weeks ago.

    Here is a link to an article that discusses the main risks of catching the virus:
    https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them
    Guess where the greatest risks are? Indoor crowds-duh.

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  19. Perhaps this is really about bathroom facilities. I suspect they will not be maintained and are thus closed. So having the population driving to the popular beaches and parks would also mean they would need restroom use at some point. Or we would have another biohazard issue. I was within driving distance to visit a beach in another county. I saw maybe 25 other people spread out between park lawn, forest trail, and beach. The restroom facilities were clean and well stocked. So basically no issues in a low populated county. This would probably not be the case in King County. Just a thought.

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  20. You've made some good points about the relative safety of outdoor activity, as well as the inequities in how public resources like green spaces are allocated.

    But I take issue with a couple things:

    1) You're going to increase density by allowing parking lots to be open at parks, and at some point that density becomes problematic. Maybe not so much at the beach/park space itself (though, typically packed Greenlake seems not great, outdoors notwithstanding), but at all the chokepoints ancillary to those parks and beaches -- the parking lots themselves, the restrooms, etc.

    2) The stuff about "wokeness" and totalitarian regimes regarding closing public spaces if they become too dense and unsafe is ridiculous. If a public resource becomes unsafe, it should be closed, and yes that collectively punishes everyone, but that doesn't make it totalitarian, it just makes it responsible public policy. You may disagree at the point where it becomes unsafe, but that's separate from histrionics around totalitarianism.

    3) Regarding the closing of the parks, how much UV radiation is there post-8PM? The table that you yourself listed shows the virus surviving 40x longer as an aerosol in the absence of the summer sun.

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    1. A full parking lot is not a problem so long as everyone doesn't come back to their car at the same time. The science clearly shows that it takes a crowd to spread the virus outside and people trickle in and out of parking lots. If you're washing you're hands after every outing like you are supposed to it doesn't matter if a small amount of virus gets on you're car.

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    2. This virus is NOT airborne. This is not like measles. SARS-CoV-2 survives only in droplets and only for a period of time. There has been a lot of fear mongering and misinformation.

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    4. Other than the bathrooms, which may be the big show stopper here, there's not much evidence of Covid-19 being transmitted in an outdoor setting.

      Importantly, of the countries performing contact tracing properly, only a single outbreak has been reported from an outdoor environment (less than 0.3% of traced infections). (ref) From: https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

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  21. This whole article needs to printed out and send to the mayor's office - by the way - she got new dye job and haircut last week.

    I played golf at Interbay on Saturday, and was fortunate to be greeted by a "Seattle social distancing ambassador" making sure no 4-some's were playing together. Think about that. Only 2-some's were permitted, which means only 18 people were on the course. Its gets better...IF that "ambassador" found/witnessed a 4-some playing together he was given the authority to close the course, with the driving range included, immediately.

    Think about that again. 4 people outside, playing golf together, and call it 150yds on average from other 2-some's either ahead or behind them depending on the hole, can shutter the whole place.

    Thank you Cliff. Great post.

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  22. Why are our leaders still ignoring science after we have had multiple discussions explaining why its perfectly safe to go outside so long as you stay 6 feet apart and don't touch surfaces everyone else is touching. I can see I'm going to have to vote differently than I normally do in the next election and I will probably join some of the protests, taking away our rights without a good scientific reason is not acceptable. I saw a study that showed 66% of people catch the virus in their homes, the virus gets on their clothes/skin when they go to the store or take public transit, they bring it home, it can live on household surfaces/recycled house air for days and when people spend all their time in this contaminated enviorment they catch it. Keeping people inside all the time is probably increasing the infection rate alittl bit. If you don't belive me look at Germany they left alot of their trails open and people could go outside so long as the wore masks and social distanced. Germany's infection rate is falling where ours is still rising coincidence? I think not. A full parking lot is not as big a problem as people think because people don't come back to their cars at the same time. If there is not a crowd of people in the parking lot you are safe.

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  23. Thank you Dr. Mass for a great presentation of this topic; I hope relevant decision makers are reading.

    The closures of ocean beaches may be attributable not so much to the "danger" of being on the beaches, but by concerns of small oceanside communities that visitors could get sick, and "overwhelm" small local hospitals. This seems a silly argument. If any Seattle- or Portland-area resident went out to the coast and started experiencing covid-19 symptoms, surely he or she would have ample time to make their way back to their home turf before the situation turned severe or debilitating. The journey home is a matter of a couple of hours, not a couple of days. If they're genuinely worried about it, they could close all lodging establishments on the coast, thus rendering the coast available to day trippers only.

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  24. How remarkable that you read this kind of truth only on an Atmospheric Scientist's blog. Not in the Seattle Times. Not on ABC, or NBC, or CBS.

    In all of this madness, this kind of post keeps me going Cliff. Thank you.

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    1. It's not remarkable to me. I don't seek any truth from the Seattle Times or ABC, NBC or CBS or Fox News. I do look at this blog every day, though.

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  25. In Italy, a 90+ year old couple survives COVID-19:

    https://www.ansa.it/abruzzo/notizie/2020/04/11/due-cuori-e-una-stanza-dospedale_66d42a03-e384-4aa0-a014-b0fc2984221d.html

    The mass media in the United States is biased. They only report stories of people dying, never of people healing.

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    1. That's because panic, negativity and doom and gloom is what sells papers, brings in the ratings and gets the clicks. Sad but true.

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  26. Cliff, I'm with you. I tend to vote Democrat because they tend to be socially and environmentally responsible, and believe in preservation, but some such people tend to follow the dogma rather than think for themselves. This, plus my libertarian streak, has me at odds with some of our elected Democratic leaders. Not everyone has as many options for outdoors-ness as I do (back yard, bicycle, boat, etc.) I understand that USFS trailheads are closed, perhaps through September (though one can still hike if parked down the road or willing to bushwhack). Our state's public policies motivate me to visit the less regulated Rocky Mountain states for my summer plans. Yes- the Governor should read this blog.

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  27. Proving once again there is nothing progressive about Seattle leadership and people who call themselves progressive. They are merely authoritarian, misanthropic, elitist, petty scolds.

    If Inslee and the rest of the new bread of dictators on the West Coast actually cared about their citizens, a simple fix for much of the virus problem would be to encourage more events to move outside. With summer mostly here, we could allow restaurants with outdoor seating to flourish again, begin to participate in some sporting events, and begin the process of restoring the economy.

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  28. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    -Benjamin Franklin

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  29. What I'm thinking the heavy-handedness in enforcement could be about stems from the people who want to go to the beaches.parks. I've literally SEEN way too many of people who do this violating the 6+ feet rule. They just gather in packs, close together, and roam all over the place between other groups of people, who are w/o masks, and interacting closely with one another with only a foot or so of space between them. If people won't/can't follow the much needed rules to keep everybody as healthy as possible... then I can see why enforcement might be a bit draconian.

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  30. It's the bottlenecks that are problematic.. Restrooms, drinking fountains, packed parking lots. I agree with you that open beaches, fields, etc, have little possibility of transmitting the virus. Combined with people traveling and mixing from different areas, that could lead to a new outbreak.

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  31. Parks employees have jobs courtesy the public. However we can replace those jobs, whether by votes or coercion, I guarantee I will try my best to do so, if science and logic do not prevail. Proper social distancing can and should occur. This is patently bullsh$t. Fire them ALL.

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  32. Bravo Cliff. A well-written and well-reasoned article. My eyes have been opened to the power of fear and the lust for power

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  33. The public health advice of a meteorologist should not be followed over that of an epidemiologist.

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    1. Typical sheep who can't hear alternate opinions to form their own. Cliff might not be a (enter specialty here) but he objectively looks at data to form an opinion. He presents the data. What you do with it is up to you. Go back to your soap operas and wait to be told what to do by a career bureaucrat.

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    2. You've missed so many scientific fundamentals here CG... Cliff just stated a couple days ago "Now don't take this blog as one uppity weather guy trying to give advice "outside his lane." A published paper in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2016), said much of the same, with the authors noting the huge similarities in the work meteorologists and epidemiologists do and suggesting that the epidemiological community is roughly 40 years behind the numerical weather prediction enterprise. "
      https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2020/04/still-flying-blind-can-meteorologists.html

      So, with that, I suggest Cliff Mass is aiding the discussion. All of science is relevant to Covid-19. Do you see anyone else talking about the importance of Vitamin-D right now. I don't, an I appreciate Cliff for it.

      Thank you Cliff. Stay safe.

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    3. IMO, the sheep are those that cherry pick their sources looking for those that tell them what they want to hear. If you have a brain tumor, will you go to your proctologist because their diagnosis fits better with your preconceptions? (ha-ha, that's a joke, no need to get upset)

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    4. If my proctologist was well read on brain tumors, if he presented facts and statistics that backed up his position in a scientific way and had a proven track record of being right about subjects outside of proctology, you bet I would listen to him. Particularly if I questioned the advice from my doctor. Good golly who wouldn't?

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    5. There s a long standing known relationship between Vitamin D and common cold prevention. Coronavirus is the common cold. CoVid19 is the common cold with 4 HIV DNA additions. Common cold with teeth. But it is still Coronavirus and Vitamin D will help. The common colds spike in winter when we get less sun exposure. Sun exposure increases Vitamin D in our bodies.

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  34. Wow. I'm a big fan of you and your blog, Cliff, but couldn't disagree more with this post. Implying that (temporary) closures of parking lots at parks and beaches is a prelude to totalitarianism is a bit much. And anecdotally, I was at Magnuson this weekend and observed lots of people who were clearly not from the same household congregating and not practicing social distancing. And that was the case even with the limited access to parking you're complaining about.

    I'm all for the benefits of Vitamin D but I think WA has actually been pretty accommodating when it comes to allowing folks access to public parks during this period. My bottom line is that the current situation represents an inconvenience, not an affront to basic rights.

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  35. I'd be happier – but not happy – if all administrative state, county, and city receivers of tax-payer monies (starting with Jay Inslee) would have 100% pay cuts AND lose the wealth they have accumulated over the last 10 years. These people seem to be so isolated from the rest of us they must be in Xanadu and have sent their humanoid robots to meet the people.

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  36. As a country, we have undertaken something never done before...shutting down an economy worth a mere $21.44+ trillion, only to reopen it again. That is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. It will open up in fits and starts. I am amazed by the voracity of the American people who want to get back to business, even recalibrating their business models to allow for reopening (i.e. health and safety measures). I am in contact with many elderly/disabled individuals. There is nary a one of them who wants to remain cooped up at home. The virus will undoubtedly linger; but we have a better working knowledge of it and can address any potential flare ups. Thank you for your parks and recreation forecast. I hope that Governor Inslee gets "wind" of it...see there, I stated it like a meteorologist.

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  37. Cliff,

    Your topic is certainly resonating with people. Keep up the good work!

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  38. Thank you, Cliff. The closing of outdoor spaces is an example of authorities choosing dramatic action unrelated to the SARS-CoV 2 biology. I am astounded how new information about the virus is ignored in favor of earlier inaccurate assumptions.

    This virus is not going away, whatever we wish or will. The implication by many authorities, and belief by many people is the fantasy that if we shut down hard enough and long enough, that the virus will disappear and infect no more.

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  39. Welp, you can blame all this fascistic behavior on democrats---THEY are the ones doing it to you. Time to #Walkaway from the Democrat party. They are drunk on power, and don't care about your recreation or your livelihood. It's out of control. VOTE DIFFERENTLY this year, or else get what you're already getting right now (and that's not cool!)

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  40. When did you become a public health expert? Stick with meteorology.

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  41. I have written Jay Inslee's Office (https://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/contact/contacting-governors-office), Patty Murray's Office (https://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme), Maria Cantwell's Office (https://www.cantwell.senate.gov/contact/email), As well as the Seattle Parks (pks_info@seattle.gov) and Washington State Parks (infocent@parks.wa.gov) to voice my opinion. Thanks Cliff. Took me about 15 minutes to all 5. TC ~ Bothell.

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  42. Maybe if everyone in puget sound didn't treat the first weekend of the stay at home like it was spring break the coastal communities wouldn't have pushed for things here to be shut down.

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  43. Who's to say that couple does not enjoy walking for fresh air and exercise, slow as it may be? Is it possible that they usually walk to the park instead of driving (or no longer drive much, period), esp. on warm days when parking can fill up? Most people would not consider a quarter mile a "very long walk" at all! People do seem to be walking more than before, and are enjoying it. The point of closing some nearby streets and parking is to give people enough space to maintain a safe distance and not get run over by cars (walkways were never built with distancing in mind!), and to limit crowding from everybody driving to the park ("cars bring the party"). Obviously there will be some spill-over effect further out, but overall, it's less total crowding regionally. Agreed about the no picnicking part, though.

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    1. bk they were having a real hard time--so much so I was concerned. Far less older folks in the park now--pretty substantial evidence of the problem. And crowding has been increased ---instead of using the widely dispersed parking, folks are forced to walk in a two access paths which funnels them together. Totally doesn't make sense.

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  44. Cliff your approach to this situation is very reasonable, grounded and probably did not present the intention of pouring gasoline on the culture wars fire. However...

    There is science.

    Then there is policy, culpability and the result of the random chaos of Human behavior.

    Already the lawsuits will last well past the memory of this challenging turn of events. Litigation as a result from this pandemic will keep a generation of attorneys busy and the transfer of wealth in legal fees alone will probably make the stimulus look like an advance on a child's allowance so they can get an ice cream cone. The complaints, if printed on toilet paper and distributed, would be more than enough to satisfy even the most OCD TP hoarder on Earth.

    Perhaps if and when this all gets to be hashed out at the Supreme Court level, a person's right to infect others is indeed protected by the Constitution by proxy. The onus might very well be not so much on restraining those individuals as much as to what level avoiding them is deemed acceptable. IE: can you be fired from your job for not wanting to interact with those that don't care if they are infected with a non-treatable contagion? Is an employer or business responsible for the illness/death of their workers or customers as a direct result of their policy/principles guiding their operations? Is a city or state government(or even the Feds)liable/culpable; or accountable for damages; or any kind of restitution able to be levied by actions and/or inactions of said parties? Tough questions. Very tough...and expensive....questions.

    So yes, there are some mitigation strategies in place right now that some view as blatantly stomping upon their civil liberties. Not all of them are just about virus transmission either. Its understandable. Unfortunately, law and science seldom ever meet. Especially with the need to address those whose mental states where already questionable to begin with before the crisis begin lashing out senselessly. Some lady got spat on by an infected person and she unfortunately passed away as a result from it. Even if that was just a hypothetical instead of a sad truth, who is held accountable for a transgression like that?

    Ultimately, this will pass. There will be some hard lessons and perhaps some tough re-evaluation of what our country is supposed to represent. Most of it will occur in the courts and not in the hallowed halls of logic and reason.


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  45. I've been writing WA State Parks for months now, about the illogicalness of closing parks and the harmful effects. I wouldn't say they don't care but their hands are tied - higher powers are at work. The governor's office doesn't seem to care though - emailed them twice, never a reply. It's not about science anymore.

    People cite social distancing violations as a reason to close parks and beaches but what they don't realize is those violations are going to occur anyway. People are fatigued and at least 1-10% of the population have decided to follow their own rules. Much better that they socialize in parks than at an indoor birthday party. Unfortunately government is now training people in how to break rules and ignore the government. I do agree the use of social shaming / manipulation in the messaging is a bit scary.

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  46. Is it possible you could share the source and formulas used to calculate the long term trend on snowpack?

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  47. Signage like that is a long standing tradition in Washington - "Litter and it will hurt" - Perfect for the finger wagging, deprived-of-common-sense who are such vocal denizens of the Pugetopolis; who, after all, likes litterbugs? Or plague carriers? How dare those old people walk slowly in the park or have to drive there? Those damn drivers! How dare people find themselves less than able in the city?

    It's creepy. Creepier is the frantic pushback against the idea that there maybe should be some form of democratic process involved. It's clear in the press conferences that Inslee doesn't understand the science. It's not clear he understands much of anything except authority (what was that digression the other day about liking the military because they "understand discipline" and are good at following orders? It sounded like something Trump would say.)

    I own a business. My future depends on running it. My long term mental health depends on surviving. Many millions of people are like me. If you are asking me (us) to sacrifice my (our) future, show me the science that justifies that. Don't show me irrational fear spun up by people who derived their basic understanding of virology from The Walking Dead. And I am a far left voter, and not a boomer, so skip your isms.

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