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Social distancing in the Smokies, other East TN outdoor spots

Taking precautions against COVID-19 does not necessarily mean you need to be cooped up in your house 24/7.

TENNESSEE, USA — Let's face it. COVID-19 has everyone stressed to some degree, and the constant flow of new information coming out about it can really heighten feelings of uncertainty.

If you're like me at all, being cooped up in the house for days does not really help in stopping those anxieties, even when I am following all of the CDC recommendations: washing my hands frequently, keeping my hands away from my face, social distancing and avoiding events with large groups of people.

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I had the opportunity to head up to the Great Smoky Mountains for a few hours, and it was a total game-changer for me after basically isolating myself for several days to practice social distancing. 

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Getting out of my house and breathing some fresh air did so much to clear my head, put this situation into perspective and let me blow off a little steam with a walk.

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I also realized it was possible to safely practice social distancing with other park-goers around me. 

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It's called the GREAT outdoors for a reason. There is room to spread out, and most parks, green spaces and even the sidewalk in your neighborhood is still open and available for use. In short, you and your neighbor can still enjoy some fresh air while maintaining a safe distance.

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Before I go on and point you to some locations and resources, a few things need to be stated once more:

  • If you go to any of these locations, you still need to practice CDC guidelines of washing your hands, social distancing, keeping your hands away from your face and disinfecting. 
  • If you are sick, quarantined or in a high-risk group (older adults and people with pre-existing medical conditions), DO NOT LEAVE. Your health and the safety of those around you is far more important. 
  • We all have a responsibility for our health and the health and safety of others. These recommendations and precautions only work if we actually implement them, and even if you're not high risk, you could come in contact with someone who is in that group.

Stay safe. Do your part for your health. Be thoughtful of others. Enjoy your time outside.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is still open and, as always, free.

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The Tennessee State Parks are staying open free of charge.

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Local parks and greenways are still open. If you're not near one, you could always try taking a stroll around your neighborhood or even stretching your legs in your own yard.

Don't forget to help each other out as well. Social distancing does not mean we stop treating people like human beings.

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Rather stay indoors?

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