By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – In a tweet from the Jefferson County Sheriff on Monday the department encouraged citizens to help stop the spread of COVID-19 with better social distancing while visiting parks and open spaces. They tweeted pictures that showed multiple vehicles in a parking lot and parked alongside a road. They also provided an example from a hiking trail that showed over a dozen people walking in close proximity to one another.

The tweet received dozens of replies with mixed opinions. Some expressing frustration and mentioning the fact that we have been encouraged to get outside as a way to maintain good mental health during this public health crisis.

Other had messages that basically said it appears people are doing a good job by walking in individual groups and doing the best they can. One person even suggested to the Jeffco Sheriff that if the office isn’t happy with the actions people are taking then maybe they should just close down all parks, trails and parking lots.

But there were plenty of opinions from the other side of the spectrum, too. One person mentioned that even families need to social distance from one another, which includes not walking in groups or doing things like holding hands.

This is a really difficult but very important topic to discuss! On one hand we need the ability to get outside and find relief from the stresses that coronavirus has created in our lives. We also need to exercise, and there is nothing like visiting the great outdoors on a beautiful day, especially now that we are into the spring season and Mother Nature is teasing us with sunny days around 70 degrees.

But as the Jefferson County Sheriff pointed out, the number of coronavirus cases for their county alone is scary, and health officials expect it to climb.

I live in Jefferson County and quite frankly am bored with walking around my neighborhood. And even my quiet street is much busier than normal with people and their dogs. It can make a walk somewhat stressful because Rosie Bell the Basset Hound is still learning how to walk on a leash at just seven months old. I have dozens of beautiful hiking trails within a mile or two of my home, so this past Sunday I got in the car and drove around to a few of the parks and trails for a change in scenery and I too noticed that the trails and parking lots were packed with people.

I continued driving until I found a trail at Elk Meadow that wasn’t too busy with people. Every vehicle in the parking lot had a space in between and I immediately thought to myself, wow, these people understand what social distancing means.

During my hike I met a total of eight people on the trail and each time I left the trail with my dog to allow a safe passing distance. We smiled and nodded to each other as we passed. While it made me feel somewhat bad because I didn’t want to offend the others by making such an obvious gesture to get out of their way, I also knew deep down in my heart that it was the right thing to do, just in case one of us were carrying the virus and didn’t know it.

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Chris Spears


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