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Tired of quarantine, residents flock to Utah outdoors

By Andrew Adams, KSL TV | Posted - May 19, 2020 at 8:20 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — After a weekend that more closely resembled a summer holiday, Monday proved to be another busy day in the Utah outdoors, as crowds sought a reprieve from pandemic life in the valleys.

At Tibble Fork Reservoir, dozens lined the sun-soaked beaches and took to the waters in hopes of some fresh air and peace of mind, while numerous groups of hikers could be seen traversing trails.

“We were like, ‘Monday’s going to be less crowded,’ but everyone probably had that same idea,” said Kelsey Hyde, who came to the reservoir with three of her friends.

Kendall Kirkham said being stuck inside a house was, “the worst.”

“I was actually in the Dominican Republic a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been home and locked up, so it’s good to be out here in Utah,” Kirkham said. “I missed it.”

U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Kathy Jo Pollock said the most recent weekend looked like a typical Memorial Day or July 4 weekend, and that had been the pattern for the past couple weeks.

Mike Willes said a recent trip to the hospital related to a dental matter left him feeling extra locked up.

“I had a tooth pulled Thursday and it kind of went bad. My blood pressure went way up and I took an ambulance ride to the emergency room,” said Willes, who noted it was the “first time out really since the shutdown.”

While most of Utah has moved into the “yellow,” or low risk phase, health officials have been urging people to maintain a social distance of at least six feet in public settings and wear masks when it is difficult to do so.

Not many masks were visible Monday, but Simon Hernandez said he felt safe where he was having a picnic near the reservoir.

“Looking around, I feel like the risk is pretty low for most people,” Hernandez said. “I think everyone is keeping up good distances, generally speaking.”

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Pollock pleaded with people to pack out their garbage and properly dispose of dog and human waste while making sure campfires were put out.

With the many concerns COVID-19 presents, Caleb Youlton said it was nice simply to be out in nature.

“I just think this pandemic is going to make people appreciate the outdoors more,” Youlton said. “It’s good to be outside again and to be doing what I love most.”

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