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Thread: The Virus, Tourism and Risk in the North Country

  1. #1
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    The Virus, Tourism and Risk in the North Country

    Here is an interesting article that illustrates the potential dangers some NH counties face as tourist season kicks off.

    The article helps shed light on why there are jingoistic rumblings from many NH folk in the north country when out of state plates appear.

    Both Coos and Belknap counties have had no virus-related deaths to date. This is despite the fact that they have very high percentages of elderly residents. Rural isolation has protected them throughout the pandemic. But that is about to change as the Lakes and mountains heat up for summer.

    Interesting stuff.
    Last edited by ChrisB; 05-21-2020 at 06:24 PM.
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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    An interesting read, however, it seems to me, (yes I'm biased in this argument), that the figures and cases are over simplified. NH's most populated counties are also amongst the youngest likely, however he only picks the one that has the most college students. Many people in small places seem to be breeding grounds, whether that's prisons, retirement homes (sorry for repeating myself), churches restaurants, larger public transit conveyances, large gatherings, bike week, college dorms, movies, sporting events, etc. People who commuted to metropolitan areas, either on vacation and flew out of airports or were in large building before knowing how bad this spread were at risk. I'm guessing NH's most populated areas also have the most people commuting to employers who had tight working conditions, whether that was cubes, assembly lines, (prisons, schools, pro sporting events, or large college arenas, think NC, Duke, SEC Football would have been a nightmare & maybe was we just didn't know since college age kids are more likely to be asymptomatic)

    Prison guards, workers in healthcare facilities, or hospitality fields are at risk of coming in contact with some who is asymptomatic, being asymptomatic themselves and then going to work in their professional duties and infecting all they come in contact with as they do not realize they are a carrier.

    Belknap County is a concern with events in Laconia, Outlets a developed area in Tilton, (if not in the County, it's the gateway from I-93) the business model thrives on being populated. Coos County may share the same age demographics, however outside of ATV visitors to the Berlin area and the Mount Washington attractions, it's different. I had planned on getting my son up Mt. Washington this year, however with Covid-19, the Summit area is too congested, the trails, trains and vans too busy to feel safe doing, even with cleaning of surfaces. (Awful life threatening weather or a Full moon, maybe the safest times to go & I'm not risking his life in the weather option)

    I'm planning on visiting using a USFS campsite. I'm planning on bringing all of our food and other than gas and a couple of pizzas, there is no plan to visit a business frequented often by the elderly or any other business at all.

    A friend who works at a large manufacturer is unable to travel with me as his job requires him in the plant. If he leaves CT to go anywhere, he gets a 14 day quarantine vacation. His company in infested CT doesn't trust anyplace else. I believe this means this summer he will be enjoying a forced stay-cation.

    I'd tell you wish campground and which less populated peaks but I don't want anymore people there.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    The more I learn about the virus, the more I think that people who are not in shape to go hiking should stay home and everyone else should resume their normal lives.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    An interesting read, however, it seems to me, (yes I'm biased in this argument), that the figures and cases are over simplified. NH's most populated counties are also amongst the youngest likely, however he only picks the one that has the most college students. Many people in small places seem to be breeding grounds, whether that's prisons, retirement homes (sorry for repeating myself), churches restaurants, larger public transit conveyances, large gatherings, bike week, college dorms, movies, sporting events, etc. People who commuted to metropolitan areas, either on vacation and flew out of airports or were in large building before knowing how bad this spread were at risk. I'm guessing NH's most populated areas also have the most people commuting to employers who had tight working conditions, whether that was cubes, assembly lines, (prisons, schools, pro sporting events, or large college arenas, think NC, Duke, SEC Football would have been a nightmare & maybe was we just didn't know since college age kids are more likely to be asymptomatic)

    Prison guards, workers in healthcare facilities, or hospitality fields are at risk of coming in contact with some who is asymptomatic, being asymptomatic themselves and then going to work in their professional duties and infecting all they come in contact with as they do not realize they are a carrier.
    Risk seems to increase significantly for those indoors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    I'm planning on visiting using a USFS campsite. I'm planning on bringing all of our food and other than gas and a couple of pizzas, there is no plan to visit a business frequented often by the elderly or any other business at all.
    I'm curious what the strategy is for hygiene? I had a friend visit a private campground in NH (she is from NH, and was a guest of a member). She said each site had it's own facilities (not sure if that was a new development or if it's just a fancy campground; I was surprised). I was glad to hear that one of the major questions had an answer, but I'm not sure how ubiquitous that arrangement is.
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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    The more I learn about the virus, the more I think that people who are not in shape to go hiking should stay home and everyone else should resume their normal lives.
    Your aerobic fitness level does not have a direct correlation to your immune system. It's certainly not a detriment & it's better not to be a type 2 diabetic or morbidly obese with HBP and missing part of a lung from 25 years of a 2 Pack a day habit, however, some very fit people got very sick too. They have had marines and as we know, many sailors get very sick. They used to say that world class gymnast reproductive organs would not work properly with all the training they did. If you are so fit that some of your other bodily functions don't operate normally, I would think that is more of a detriment than a benefit.

    The HHS was probably correct when he said US deaths were impacted by the shape of the American people as a whole. You have obesity and OTOH, people who thanks to medication not around during the Spanish Flu or even the 50's, would have dies from ailments that today a pill keeps them going. When the HHS used it as a excuse and whined about being blamed, it came off as cold & heartless. Politicians, doctors and people in the social services need to be able to deliver bad news nicely.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    The more I learn about the virus, the more I think that people who are not in shape to go hiking should stay home and everyone else should resume their normal lives.
    Based on NH reported statistics, the congregate care/housing facilities all have large usually asymptomatic virus penetration regardless of age of clients. As the age of the clients goes up, the fatality rate goes up. This is despite very heavy focus on excluding the virus from the facilities. Given the other recent indications that the risk of contracting the virus via surface transmission and that outdoor transmission via casual contact is also minimal, I expect the extra risk imposed by additional visitors is not high as long as they minimize their indoor close contact.

    I personally have my suspicions about interior dining. Inherently, in order to cool air using conventional air source cooling units, the air is recirculated with little outdoor air being introduced. Large medical and public space AC units may contain UVC tubes in the system which are very effective at eliminating pathogen transmission from AC units but I expect they are quite rare on commercial system, especially in a seasonal climate like northern NH. Even if UVC tubes are used they usually have 1000 hour life and expect many are way over the change out date. Lot ot be said to load up the cooler, tail gate post hike and skip the restaurants but I expect that is not message the local chamber of commerce want promoted.

    I did notice that Coca Cola in on the curve for outdoor dining, I see many of the restaurants that have added tables instead of tents all are sporting brand new Coca Cola Umbrellas over the tables.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I'm curious what the strategy is for hygiene? I had a friend visit a private campground in NH (she is from NH, and was a guest of a member). She said each site had it's own facilities (not sure if that was a new development or if it's just a fancy campground; I was surprised). I was glad to hear that one of the major questions had an answer, but I'm not sure how ubiquitous that arrangement is.
    That's a WIP. My son & I are used to spending a week in the Allagash with limited facilities. He eats a very limited menu, bagels, Chex Mix, Crackers and Cheese, dry cereal and instant breakfast. I'll eat everything, and have, so cold bagels, cliff & fig bars, Cheese, bananas are fine. We both could eat pasta or pizza for two or three months every dinner if needed. Any dishes we use for breakfast will be virtually non-existent, same with all meals. We'll bring lots of water as we are car camping for drinking and washing hands. We can bring our own chairs so we don't sit at a common picnic table. The only common items we should be touching are the surfaces at the outhouse or port-a-let. We'll limit that as much as possible.

    Whether we go with gloves or Clorox wipes, either one should help with that.

    There is no need to tell his mom or grandmother that we just eat pizza right out of the box.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Saw where North Country ATV in Gorham is opening for rentals tomorrow. I think I would want my own helmet but supposedly a lot of sanitizing going on.
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I expect the extra risk imposed by additional visitors is not high as long as they minimize their indoor close contact.
    That seems to be the crisis in a nutshell. Someone here in one of these posts (possibly TEO?) had a link to a great article that analyzed in depth how a virus spreads using a past example (maybe SARS - I don't recall). Basically the issue was dosage + exposure time = risk. Basically you needed to ingest "x" number of particles of the virus to become ill. He went on to analyze a variety of "events" like talking, breathing hard, sneezing, etc in terms of the amount of particles of exposure (i.e 10-20 particles from a minute of talking, 10000 particles for a sneeze, etc) and assigned times for engaging in an activity and the particles exposed. So for example, having a normal conversation with someone from 6' away might ingest 100-200 particles of virus per minute so if you needed 1000 particles to become infected you'd need to talk for 5-10 minutes whereas a sneeze might instantly expose you to a massive dose, etc.

    I personally am not at all worried about outside activities and think in many cases controlling the exposure to contact infection is fairly easy. To your point, I wouldn't be keen on any enclosed environment with either limited ventilation or artificial controls like an AC, fan, etc. Small restaurants, cramped shops like they have in downtown North Conway, the Cog, etc would all be on my "no <BLEEPING> way" list. More people + Less space = High Danger.
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    There is also correlation to death rates for people who have a hardened left ventricle, THis is frequently tied to high blood pressure which is fairly significant untreated disease especially in the African American population. Folks who are hiking routinely are I expect far less likely to have either high blood pressure or hardened left ventricle. Yes there are outliers but in the case of the navy ships, there were many asymptomatic sailors that tested positive than those who had symptoms.

    Many of the most commercial activities that contribute to the local economy the most are the best to avoid. The Auto Road's vans, the Cogs railroad cars, Conway Scenic RR, Storyland, and Santa's Village and anything to do with the summit building are all high risk I happen to object to the contention that overcrowded hiker lots are a major risk vector yet at least one popular meetup group has stated that if the lot is full the trip leader is expected to got to secondary choice.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Hiker Lots are probably more of an issue at certain State Parks where they open at a certain time and close at a certain time. Every state has some of these. Think of BSP. the day hikers are wait on the road a while, if you are early enough you head for your first choice, likely Roaring Brook. That was my one knock last time I went up Katahdin. Since we all arrive at the lot at the same time and many trails are within a mile or two of distance to the top, most arrive on the top around the same time. We did Hamlin also after coming across the edge and over Baxter Peak. We had Hamlin by ourselves and with the extra mileage really saw no one after leaving the saddle.

    Most of the USFS lots allow early arrivals and enough diversity in trails hikers doing a shorter trip don't have to arrive early or can go early and get back early. Lincoln Woods may be the exception as many of the hikes from there are long. OH, Bondcliff and Bond or a Traverse. (Your could do Garfield or Galehead this way too though few do) Flume by Osseo is the shortest trip to a 4K peak at a little over 11 RT. The Flat trips to water, either the falls or Black Pond are about the same length too.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    As I travel to different places around U.S. (and other countries too) I always wonder what people in these places do for living. About a month ago I was pondering on a related question - how big a chunk of New Hampshire economy is driven by tourism. I suspect that my view of New Hampshire is quite skewed as we usually stayed near North Conway which is probably not representative of the rest of the state. With Covid-19 still being a significant concern for many people I can't see how income from tourism anywhere in the world could come close to what it used to be. I suspect there will be a lot fewer visitors and it will be a rough year for anyone who relied on income from tourism-related services. At some point this may affect people's thinking about the pandemic and how it fits into the bigger picture of their lives.

    Speaking for myself, I think 2020 will be a year of birding walks in places that are reachable from home for day hikes. I really doubt we will get to visit White Mountains or ADKs this summer. We are not even discussing any plans as if we already agreed long time ago that we are not going anywhere.

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    I suspect there is pent up demand from folks living in more population dense areas to get up into more rural areas of New England. I think the areas outside of daytripping range and more dependent on long term camping or accommodations like rural Maine will get a worst hit. Many of the sporting camps of Maine are claiming that the 40 or so that are left will be seriously impacted. The whitewater rafting industry depends on volume and close contact of guests and expect it will be pretty scary season. Maine is still effectively closed to out of state overnight guests and may be for at least another month.

    There are a couple of specialty businesses along the AT in Maine and NH that are going to have a rough year as many of the Northbound thru hikers are not on the trail. Places like Whitehouse landing, Pierce Pond camps and a couple of hostels in Monson depend on thruhiker business and loss of one years revenue may mean a for sale sign this winter.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Whitewater rafting yes, Allagash trips in canoes though, other than the back person in the canoe maybe being only 3 to 4 feet behind someone exerting themselves, (in my case it's been my son so not an issue), You can keep a decent distance.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Just read an interesting stat out of NH: 80% of all of COVID deaths state wide have been in nursing home and care facilities.
    Nobody told me there'd be days like these
    Strange days indeed -- most peculiar, mama
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