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Public Health Officials Weigh The Benefits And Risks Of Getting Outdoors During COVID-19

Marissa Ortega-Welch
A trailhead sign at an East Bay Park reminds visitors to maintain social distancing while hiking. Some parks have closed to visitors because of COVID-19.

Melissa Jones is the Executive Director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiatives, a coalition of the region's public health departments. The coalition has been meeting regularly to discuss best practices for policy decisions around COVID19. One of which is whether or not counties should keep their parks open for residents to access during the shelter in place order. 

"Getting outside is so important to health and it would be important to health anytime but certainly it's important to health in a time when there is less access to recreation than there was before."

The coalition ultimately issued policy recommendations to keep parks open in order to ensure that people have access to the mental and physical health benefits of being outdoors. In this interview, Jones talks about the factors that were considered in making this policy recommendation, why some counties are still shutting down parks, and why an organization focused on health inequities is even thinking about the question of going outdoors. 

Click the play button above to listen.