If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Take action to protect rural communities from COVID-19


By Maria DeBari

I woke up on Wednesday in Indian Creek, happy and tired. I drove to get service for the first time in a week to find out that Moab was shutting down and pleading for people to stay away as its community can not support an outbreak of coronavirus with only 17 hospital beds and three ventilators, as well as a more at-risk elderly population. So I went home, even though I was barely at the beginning of my climbing trip.

The social climate where I live in Index, Washington is similar. There are vans with out-of-state plates camping out in the Lower Town Wall parking lot. Washington governor Jay Inslee is encouraging people to get outdoors and recreate. Yesterday there were more cars parked at local trailheads than I have ever seen before. Those people driving out here have to stop for gas, snacks, bathroom breaks. The elderly couple who run the Index General Store expressed frustration with the amount of oblivious people wandering around the store taking 10 minutes to pick out a candy bar. But if they close down, they are risking financial hardship as well as taking away a vital resource for our local community.

Yesterday a hiker on the Lake Serene trail took a fall and required an evacuation by search and rescue. They were transported via helicopter to a hospital that is already overwhelmed with too few resources, not enough staff, and not enough personal protective equipment for staff. Search and rescue protocols require use of precious N-95 masks for these transports which are in short supply nationally. I work at this hospital.

I see posts on social media that friends are “socially distancing” themselves to small rural places that are far away from where they reside. It’s hard, I get it. I’ve always done whatever I want to, generally deciding the rules don’t apply to me because my life doesn’t follow social norms. But this is bigger than all of us and we need to take responsibility for ourselves because our government isn’t doing it. Please stay home, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. This is on us.