Coronavirus Is Changing the Way the U.S. Uses Public Lands

Many have been transformed into spaces where infected people and caregivers can be isolated and quarantined safely.

Central Park is now home to a field hospital for COVID-19 patients. Kentucky state park buildings are outfitted as safe housing for first responders. Georgia and Louisiana put emergency trailers in their state parks to serve as isolation units.

The U.S. has 600 million acres of public lands, managed by federal and state governments and owned by the people, but since the pandemic hit, most of those lands are no longer open to the public for exploration, education, and recreation like they have been for decades. They’ve been closed to their usual visitors in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and many have been transformed into spaces where infected people and caregivers can be isolated and quarantined safely.

VICE News looked at some of the ways public lands are serving a new purpose during the pandemic, all the while fulfilling their original intent: serving as spaces to restore, reflect, and heal.

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