coronavirus

Residents Concerned After Large Groups Hit LA Trails Without Masks, Ignoring Social Distancing

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Weekend warriors got their first chance to hike trails that reopened across Los Angeles, city and county, over the weekend, but Monday, some neighbors reached out to the I-Team, saying the new freedom created a health hazard.

Videos show a number of people were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing, including a large group residents say should have known better.

While there were people abiding by the recommendations, some neighbors said they saw large groups clustering together on narrow trails and not wearing masks, including a big group of marine recruits.

Videos from the popular Hollywood Hills Wisdom Tree Saturday showed some of the lack of social distancing over the weekend.

"80%-plus not wearing masks," said Mark Gleason, who lives near the Wisdom Tree and shot some footage of hikers.

Gleason says what most concerned him is the video he took of what appeared to be a group carrying a US Marine Corps flag.

The I-Team found photos posted on the Instagram page of the Sherman Oaks-based Marines, one of which shows a large group standing shoulder to shoulder and only two people wearing masks.

"The USMC is supposed to be about fidelity, duty and honor;  it was just the opposite," Gleason said.

While trails across LA reopened over the weekend, people are still required to maintain a safe social distance and wear face coverings.

The I-Team reached out to the U.S. Marines recruiting station Los Angeles about the concerns and the photos. They responded that recruits were on a conditioning hike and while they are told to carry masks, likely removed them because it was hard to breathe.

A Marines spokesperson says leadership is now reinforcing social distancing guidelines to Marines and recruits, adding:

"…We are focused on physically and mentally preparing our fine young men and women for recruiting training while also focusing on the health and safety of everyone in our organization, their families and our local communities."

The spokesperson said they will be reminding future Marines that they are expected to follow CDC protocols and are discussing finding less crowded locations for future training.

"These very large groups in particular – they are setting us back," Gleason said.

He wants people to continue enjoying the trails but to do so safely. 

Gleason added, "One or two people breaking the rules not a big problem. When you start to get 15, 20 people in a group that’s how the virus expands exponentially."

The local resident said he saw park rangers handing out advisories.

The I-Team reached out to the LAPD and the mayor’s office for comment on the group of recruits and how the requirements are being enforced, but neither party offered direct comment on the matter.

The sheriff responded Monday about enforcement on the trails, saying they are warning people, as well as giving out masks.

if there is a spike in cases because guidelines are not being followed, the sheriff and county health officials say they could revert to more restrictions.

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