Arizona congressman asks for Grand Canyon to be closed to help prevent COVID-19 spread
PHOENIX - When social distancing became a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control, many thought of ways they can still socially distance themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of those ways was hiking, but now there are restrictions for many hiking trails in the valley.
Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-1) wants to do the same for one of the wonders of world right here in Arizona, the Grand Canyon.
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"This is a situation where we have exponential growth on the cases in Arizona and it has to be closed," O’Halleran said.
It's a strong request from the congressmen shutting down the place people dream of going to, but he says now is not the time to sight see.
"This is a time to be home, away from areas that there is a lot of people. The Grand Canyon has a tremendous amount of people right now considering their situation," O’Halleran explained.
As state officials urge people to stay inside during the global pandemic to stop the spread of COVID-19, many are looking for alternative ways to social distance themselves.
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But O’Halleran says that’s the opposite of whats happening, emphasizing that park rangers are being put in danger.
"One of the main issues up in the Grand Canyon is that there are not enough rangers. They're short in fact, to be able to address the issue of people congregating in large groups on the Grand Canyon," O’Halleran said.
The number of cases in Arizona grows day by day. On Sunday, the state has 919 cases and 17 deaths.
FOX 10 asked the congressman how this possible shutdown will impact the economic growth in the state if the popular tourist spot were to shut down.
"Here's the thing, we started to have exponential growth in the cases in Arizona. It’s imperative that we think of people's lives. It’s life or death, and whether it’s children, elderly, everyone else in the state. Our citizens are paramount to their health and safety so we need to take action that's reasonable and this is reasonable ..." he said.
So whats next for the state if the Grand Canyon doesn’t close down? O'Halleran says he will continue to request the shutdown until people understand the message.