• Jody Kussin

#58 Family Matters - Take a Hike

In These Times by Dr. Jody Kussin, May 11, 2020

Television viewership is actually down, according to newspaper reports. Remember newspapers? Delivered to the house? Purportedly germ and virus free, full of, well, NEWS. They are now thinner and thinner, full of ads (many saying thank you to first line essential workers, so that’s nice) but lacking in news that is not 100% COVID-19. That is partially because they have laid off or ‘helped retire’ many of their reporters and partially because their historic clients have stopped advertising and partly because this pandemic is indeed a major part of our daily lives and newscycle.

On the other hand, do we need MORE information on COVID-19? We are inundated. 24/7 coverage on social media, the aforementioned television (network and premium stations), first alerts on our phones that keep beeping and buzzing, and constant emails.

Is there such a thing as too much information? Well, I suppose that depends on the content, the presenter, the messaging, and the intent of those communicating with us.

Sometimes the ‘thanks to our amazing heroes’ is touching and even overwhelming and we shed a tear or two and are motivated to feel gratitude and even to act upon those feelings.

Sometimes, however, (call me snarky) it feels disingenuous – an advertiser for face cream who thanks the nurses with their soft faces….hmmmm. Really!? A marketing genius who floods us with tv spots of incredibly brave and heart-warming scenes in an attempt to get us to purchase their product – (Is it really true that a certain car is LOVE? On the other hand, they ARE delivering millions of meals to hungry insecure families so – I guess it’s okay?)

Are the rules different in Simi Valley and Valley Village and Anaheim (yes, Ventura County has a whole different set of rules than LA County than Orange County, etc.)

We can access information on our own by visiting the many .gov sites (Los Angeles County information) (California site.) (National information site.)

Despite all the incoming messages, it is hard to find those tiny bits of info we really need.

If we go to the beach can we sit and visit with those with whom we are sheltering (no.)

If we go to the market or grocery store, do we have to wear face masks even when the market has not marked off taped areas for social distance lines and one-way arrows or feet for narrow aisles (yes.)

Can we go into the bookstore, toy store, music store to browse now (no, curbside pickup only, after ordering on the phone or online.)

What about trails in L.A. County? It is such a relief to have access to the great outdoors, just be aware:


1. Don’t use trails that you know are crowded. If you can’t stay 6 feet away from others that are not part of your household, choose a different trail. a. If you are on a trail and notice a crowd ahead of you turn back. b. If it is unavoidable that you must pass another group be sure to wear your cloth face covering as you pass by and do not stop to gather or converse with other groups.

2. Don’t leave your home if you are sick with a fever or respiratory symptoms or are currently under isolation or quarantine.

3. Do not gather in groups or linger at any one location except as needed for brief rests.

4. Do not share food or water while out on the trails.


1. Prepare before you visit a trail. a. Check with the park in advance to be sure you know which areas or services are open, (such as bathroom facilities and concessions) and bring what you need with you. Information on 600 miles of local, state, and federal trails in Los Angeles County can be accessed at Standard trail use etiquette and safety guidelines can be found at Additionally, we encourage you to visit the local jurisdiction’s website for additional information on trails in your area.

2. Follow all park, trail or nature preserve rules, regulations and any posted access restrictions.

3. Stay at least six (6) feet from others who are not members of your household at all times. This might make some open areas, trails, and paths better to use than others. Avoid crowded areas. Everyone needs a face covering at the trailhead/parking lots and on any trails where there are other groups of people nearby. Infants and children under the age of 2 should not wear cloth face coverings. Those between the ages of 2 and 8 should use them under adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and to avoid choking or suffocation. Children with breathing problems should not wear a face covering.

4. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

5. Pack out all trash.

As a general rule, I believe ‘use common sense’ and we’ll all be alright. However, in these times, not everything seems ‘sensicle’ unless you’re using Dr. Seuss logic. Nonetheless, the intent is to keep more of us safe, for longer periods of time, so, from that perspective, I’m in.

And here is what occurred to me and seemingly hundreds of thousands of Americans – when the ads get too much, on the screen or in the paper, quit watching and reading.

Instead, pack up your own water bottle, mask, toilet paper or wipes, hand sanitizer, and bags for trash *yours and your dogs, and, hit the outdoors. Also, apparently, remember you are outside to be part of nature, and not to socialize with those you meet climbing up or down - - - we have not yet been cleared for that! Happy trails to us all.

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