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UArizona could shut down Tumamoc Hill again if mask use doesn't increase

Posted at 12:11 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 14:11:37-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona could close Tumamoc Hill to hikers if more people don't start wearing masks.

UArizona, which manages the hill, shut it down from March 18 to May 25 due to the pandemic. As many as 1,000 people walk the hill every day.

UArizona officials made a similar push in July, monitoring mask use and ultimately deciding to keep Tumamoc Hill open.

"The inherent paradox of the use of Tumamoc during these times unfortunately continues," said Benjamin Wilder, director of the University of Arizona Desert Library on Tumamoc Hill, in a statement. "What brings stability and release also holds the threat of the virus, due to how many people walk the hill. We know how important the hill is to individuals in our community at this time, which we are grateful for, and the last thing we want is to close the hill. However, if we view the hill as an unsafe place due to a failure to wear masks, closure remains an option."

About 70% of people in late summer used masks. More people have been wearing masks in the morning than in the evenings when the percentage has dipped to about 30 percent.

"We're seeing people with masks, but they're wearing them around their wrists, ears or chins, rather than over their mouth and nose," Wilder said. "And it is finally much more enjoyable to be outside in the evenings, which we hope encourages people to keep their masks on."