Skiers Should Play It Safe to Avoid Hospitals Amid Coronavirus, Vt. Officials Say

Skiers and riders are being asked not to hike up the trails of closed resorts in order to avoid possible injuries that could land them in the ER as hospitals treat an increasing number of coronavirus cases.

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Expected snowfall later this week is prompting safety warnings aimed at thrill-seekers in an effort to prevent trips to the ER while hospitals prepare for the peak of coronavirus patients.

Although Vermont's Jay Peak is closed to help slow the spread of the disease, jersey barriers are now blocking entries to the main access road and key parking lots. Employees are also posting signs telling skiers and riders to stay away, all in an attempt to deter the temptation of incoming spring snow in parts of northern New England this week.

"At this point, the best thing we can do is continue to stay at home and stay safe," Jay Peak Resort President Steve Wright said.

The concern stems from an occasional sight NECN and NBC 10 Boston covered in May 2017 at a different Vermont resort.

True die-hards have been known to hike up ski trails, many of which are on state-owned land, when lifts are closed and when there’s still snow in the mountains. Resorts regard it as a bit of a risk, since no ski patrollers are working when lifts aren’t spinning.

The reward for that arduous workout is a free late-season trip down.

"It was so much fun," skier Jeff Wagner beamed in May of 2017 after hiking up a trail at Killington Resort and skiing down.

Today, the new coronavirus has hospitals pleading with folks to skip the activity and other unnecessary ones that could cause possible injuries.

"I think we've asked the entire country to do things very, very differently," Dawn LeBaron of the University of Vermont Medical Center said, "to deliver an outcome where we can keep as many people safe and alive and healthy as possible."

UVMMC joined others on the front lines of the fight against the new coronavirus to issue a reminder that something like a broken wrist or leg would require close physical contact with EMTs and a trip to a stressed E.R.

More adventurous activities, the hospital said, could wait until after the pandemic passes.

"Believe me, the minute that we're ready to open up our doors again, every person within earshot is going to know about it," Wright said, adding he is optimistic travelers will be eager to book getaways when the stay-at-home advisory is withdrawn.

LeBaron noted that while hospitals, including the UVM Medical Center, want everyone to reduce unnecessary risks right now, they also want people to know if there is an emergency, they are absolutely prepared to care for those patients.

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