#67 | When Can We Backpack Again? A Chat with Public Health Experts + 2020 NOGO Thru-Hikers

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In today's episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are once again flipping the script. This episode is dedicated to all things COVID-19. We chat with a pair of experts on infectious disease and epidemiology. Dr. Amesh Adalja is an infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. And Jagdish Khubchandani is a Professor of Health Science at Ball State University with a PhD in Health Education and Epidemiology. Both of our experts share their opinion on the latest data surrounding this virus, including the million dollar question of when they think it will be safe to resume our backpacking ways.

We also are joined by a pair of 2020 NOBO turned NOGO thru-hikers (and Trek contributors), one from the AT, one from the PCT, to share their experiences of how this pandemic played out from their perspectives. Taylor Frint had only been on trail for two days before making the decision to get off, while John Mecklin was a few hundred miles into his hike when shit really started hitting the fan.

Also---it's worth stating here---after today's episode, we will likely drop the coronavirus subject for a while. There's plenty of information out there regarding this virus, and although we're not about to pretend like it isn't impacting everything, we're hoping to provide a venue where you can go to escape the firehose of doomsday information. The reason for today's episode is that we wanted to provide some expertise on this subject and how it pertains to backpacking along with shine a spotlight on those who made the difficult decision to hit the indefinite pause button on their hikes.

In this episode:

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Interview with Dr.Amesh Adalja

00:04:00 - Intro of Dr.Amesh Adalja

00:05:26 - What is Dr.Adalja optimistic about (in regards to COVID-19)?

00:06:30 - Fatality estimate rates (is it overstated?)

00:08:26 - Why is antibody testing important? Are there any areas already doing this?

00:10:31 - What percentage of people do you think could get this and be asymptomatic?

00:12:00 - Do you have a rough estimate for when we will resume normalcy?

00:13:24 - Potential relaxation in May

00:16:40 - If you were running a municipality, what metrics would you be looking for in regards to COVID-19 regulation?

00:18:00 - How far away do you think we are from a vaccine?

00:19:00 - How long until people with existing conditions (asthma, etc.) can expect to resume normal life?

00:20:00 - Will we all have to get COVID-19 eventually?

00:21:20 - Are there any promising treatments you are seeing happen?

00:22:14 - Should we be hiking with masks on?

00:24:10 - Is there fear mongering going on? What is serious about this virus?

00:25:50 - Where do we get more info from Dr.Amesh Adjala?

Interview with Jagdish Khubchandani

00:26:44 - Intro to Dr.Khubchandani

00:28:00 - How long does the virus live on surfaces (like wood, etc.)?

00:29:30 - Concerns for Trail Towns

00:31:00 - Vitamin D Deficiencies

00:32:00 - How long will we be self-quarantined? When will travel return to normal?

00:33:18 - Will there be a second peak when we all start going out and travelling again?

00:33:58 - Another Peak in September

00:34:15 - Will there be another self-quarantine?

00:34:48 - What’s your take on countries who have taken more severe measures on quarantine?

00:37:00 - Thoughts on the current state of the Coronavirus vaccine?

00:38:25 - What are your thoughts in terms of immunity with this virus?

00:40:00 - Should people be able to live their life normally after they are infected?

00:41:00 - What is the risk of reinfection?

00:42:17 - Do you have hope for any treatments in the pipeline?

00:43:25 - Testing!

00:44:00 - What are the right kinds of sanitizers to kill COVID-19? Hydrogen Peroxide, Rubbing Alcohol, Bleach

00:45:00 - Who’s at a higher risk for COVID-19?

00:46:00 - What kind of symptoms should people be on the lookout for?

00:47:30 - How many people are infected, realistically?

00:48:30 - What’s the difference between all the buzz words being thrown around right now (social distancing, socially irresponsible, self-quarantine)?

00:50:00 - When will groups of friends be able to get back together?

00:51:20 - Thoughts on making your own hand sanitizer?

00:52:45 - Do you have to leave your groceries in the car?

00:55:50 - What is one thing you’d convey to BPR listeners?

Interview with Taylor Frint:

The Trek Design Intern, The Trek Vlogger, 2020 PCT hiker who had to get off a few days into her hike due to COVID-19.

00:59:58 - Start from the Top

01:02:00 - What did you have to put on hold or sacrifice for the hike?

01:03:00 - Walk us through the days leading up to your thru-hike!

01:04:00- What was it like when you got to the southern terminus?

01:07:10 - Did you know what it would take for you to get off trail?

01:08:27 - What were the opinions of people already on trail as far as getting off once the PCTA announced?

01:10:26 - Had you already made friends?

01:11:51 - how did you feel when you decided to get off trail?

01:13:11 - What was the mood like in the airport when going home?

01:14:23 - How does your age impact your fear of the virus?

01:16:00 - Where did you end up when you went home?

01:18:23 - Thoughts about people still on trail?

01:22:45 - Do you have plans to try again?

01:23:41- Southbound hike?

01:28:50 - How are you feeling now?

Interview with John Mecklin:

The Trek Blogger, Left trail 1 month into his thru-hike of the AT due to COVID-19

01:33:25 - Intro / How did you decide to thru-hike?

01:34:59 - What was the financial situation like leading up to your hike?

01:35:00 - When did you first start hearing about the coronavirus?

01:36:50 - When did you start being really concerned about the virus?

01:38:00 - Did behavior change on the trail because of the virus?

01:38:50 - What was the first moment that it started to feel real?

01:41:00 - When did you make the decision to get off trail?

01:42:48 - Did your hiking group stay on trail or get off?

01:42:18 - Are people you were hiking with still on trail?

01:44:20 - Why do you think people are still on trail?

01:48:45 - Was the trail experience living up to what you wanted it to be?

01:49:20 - In what ways do you think you became a better person while on trail?

01:51:30 - What is Memphis like right now?

01:55:43 - What are your plans for thru-hiking?

01:57:20 - How do you feel about having to get off trail? How are you feeling overall?

01:59:00 - What are you going to school for?

02:01:20 - Zach is proud of John and the thru-hikers who have gotten off this year.

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