OP-ED: A pandemic isn’t the time for a Parker vacation

Friends, you don’t need me to tell you that we’re having an unprecedented moment in our world. Nobody alive today has seen anything like the crisis we are experiencing across the globe. You know the old saying, ‘Follow the money’? The reaction of every market on earth to the coronavirus pandemic tells us a lot about how serious it is; when rich capitalists start saying we need to make economic sacrifices, you know things just got real.

But you wouldn’t know it to look at much of the Parker area this past week. Snowbirds are streaming in and out of stores by the hundreds, people are still getting together for parties, California weekenders are flocking to the Parker area to turn their shelter-at-home order into a river vacation.

Here’s the problem: COVID-19 is at least 6 times more deadly than the flu, and much more transmissible, which means that lots more Americans are going to need medical attention in the coming days and weeks than can possibly get it. People will die. And the single, solitary lever we can pull to save hundreds of thousands of American lives is a period of social distancing. There is no other available.

The cold hard truth is that La Paz County does not have the resources to handle an influx of sick people. One of the reasons Italy is in such trouble is because of the average age of its citizens. Older people fare worse than younger people, and are more likely to need those ventilators and limited hospital beds. La Paz County has one of the 3 oldest populations in the entire nation, according to the Census. (The median age in Italy is 45.5, the median age in La Paz County is 53.9!)

So why aren’t people more concerned? Why aren’t they staying home more? Why aren’t they taking this seriously?

Maybe it’s bravado. Maybe it’s skepticism. Maybe vacations are more fun than social distancing. Maybe we have a built-in cognitive bias that makes us blind to things that haven’t affected us personally. Maybe until people get seriously sick themselves, or start seeing their friends or family members getting sick, they’re not blinking.

People also have some really wrongheaded ideas. Like this one: that because there are zero confirmed cases in La Paz County to date, that means there isn’t much to worry about. Let’s just state it clearly: (1) The fact that no cases have been confirmed does not mean that there are no cases; (2) Any of the people you came in contact with in the last week could have it and be passing it on without knowing it; (3) The more travel there is from one city to another, the more likely it is to spread; (4) All it takes is a single infected person to cause a whole outbreak; (5) La Paz County hasn’t been testing much until more recently, so we just don’t know (6) Cases are increasing at an exponential rate.

With all that said, let’s talk about some good stuff.

There are still zero confirmed cases in the County as mentioned. This won’t last long. But Dr. Parker, Dr. Shillito, La Paz Regional Hospital and Indian Health Service in Parker are all testing now. Testing provides a foundation for managing.

A shipment of gloves, gowns and masks from the Strategic National Stockpile has arrived in La Paz County and is being distributed to first responders and agencies (see below for an important caveat on this).

Restaurants and bars and other establishments have been starting to play their part. BlueWater Resort & Casino is closed to the public for now. El Sarape is doing take-out orders only. Sundance Saloon has a hand sanitizer machine outside with multiple pumps. Roadrunner is using only disposable eating and drinking materials and not refilling drinks in used cups. Some places are limiting the number of people they allow in at once, so people can stay an appropriate distance from others. Pickup and delivery are becoming a primary way to get favorite food from establishments (and you should support them if you can by doing that as much as possible).

It’s a tough time. Economically, things will be hard, especially for the small businesses that make up the local economy. But let’s just be honest: Even with the above measures in place, the Parker area is at a risk level that is worth being serious about. The resources we have in Parker (including the supplies from the Strategic Stockpile) are based on the number of permanent residents in Parker, which is far, far smaller than the numbers of people who are actually in the area right now. And they’re already being rationed strictly, because nationally, there aren’t enough.

Don’t feel bad if you had to undergo an evolution in your thinking on this. Nobody was ready for what’s happening and most people have changed their minds over the last couple of weeks as they have become fully informed about what’s going on. The world seems to change around us every 24 hours.

What should you do now? Here’s my own opinion (take it or leave it):

  • If you’re currently visiting the Parker area, consider whether you’d be better off going home so that the limited resources can go to locals who need them. I just talked to a friend who packed up his Parker house and headed back to Orange County for this reason.
  • If you decide to stay in Parker, base yourself indoors, draw a circle around a few people and stick to hanging with them and them only. If one of you gets sick, all of you isolate.
  • When you go outdoors, do it with a maximum of a few people at a time. It’s a beautiful time of the year for desert hikes, UTV rides, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities, but if it involves more than a few people, or sharing seats with people outside your tight circle, or sharing food or drinks or anything like that, it’s not safe.
  • Remember, when you’re drinking alcohol, you’re not exercising the same judgment you would if you were sober. (Just saying.)
  • When you go to the grocery store, choose your times wisely; if it’s crowded, go away and come back later. Don’t hoard (there’s no actual product shortage).
  • Wash your hands when you enter your home from outdoors, and disinfect all the surfaces you’re touching regularly (think about your phone, your wallet, your keys, your doorknobs, your car interior and handles, your boat, your thermos, your koozies… you name it).
  • Be the odd one out. Stand up to people who aren’t taking the precautions you are. Let them know you think they’re being selfish and putting others at risk!
  • Look after older neighbors and friends. Now is the time for kindness, care, and pulling together. Lean in to all the positive human spirit you can, and see what you can accomplish in the downtime.

You know what’s weird about this crisis? If every person on earth, right now, decided to freeze in place for just 14 days – to press the pause button for just 2 weeks at home – the virus would die off completely and life would be back to normal. It is being kept alive by all the travel and indifference of the kind you’re seeing in Parker this last week.

Parker’s greatest strength is its greatest weakness right now. All the qualities that draw people together into social fun at the river are a liability in a pandemic. But with some adaptation for a while, and some patience, we’ll get back to the good times.

John Wright


  1. Parker Live

    The median age in Italy is 45.5. The median age in La Paz County, Arizona is 53.9.

  2. Brandy Frew

    Well said, thank you ❤

  3. shereFF ROth will make us all Good next november

  4. Jillian DeHollander

    Totally agree. They’re obviously fleeing their home for a reason, dont come here and be a jackass

  5. Shanana Rain Bear

    Quartzsite median age was raised to 70 years. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  6. Mc Gregor Lucky Lacey

    close all campsites in la paz !

  7. Well said. This is a tough time for everyone and we are learning more everyday. We are in uncharted, river waters here…

  8. Nancy Dick

    People please take this serious and stay home as much as possible, it doesn’t work if we all don’t do our part in stopping this deadly virus. We need to as adults set good examples for our children and protect our families and friends!!!

  9. FrancesEva Garcia

    I know Jon. Couldn’t believe all the activity at Sundance Saloon, Parker, Az. & the parties at #EchoLodge. The BlueWater Resort & Casino close the entire hotel! Yet the people, boats & little kids around here this weekend was awful! I can understand about parting it up at this time, just do it at home! We are Snowbirds #Day11 #HonkeredDown in our little trailer. We listen to #KLPZ every day.

  10. Anne-Marie Smith

    This is why the world will go to shit…..selfish people can’t do what is best for all of us. SHAME ON EVERY ONE OF YOU!!!

  11. Renee Juliani

    So far, the new coronavirus has led to more than 220,000 illnesses and more than 9,300 deaths worldwide. But that’s nothing compared with the flu, also called influenza. In the U.S. alone, the flu has caused an estimated 36 million illnesses, 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  12. Liv Henson

    Renee Juliani yes but its spreading faster than the regular influenza that’s what the CDC is trying to say. Hence; we all have to stay home

  13. Liv Henson


  14. Thank you, John!! I’ve been working from home for the past week now. The river has been very busy for this time of year. I have noticed that the bars that are open were packed. One, even had a live band. Parker is not immune to this virus. We are a small community that gets a lot of visitors. Out town, our community is our home. I feel the locals are doing what they are supposed to be doing but I don’t believe this will save us. Stay home. Stay safe.

  15. Vivian Wilson

    Instead of going out this weekend to celebrate mine and my husband’s 29th wedding anniversary we stayed at home and celebrated with our family but I totally agree we have to limit the activity in Parker

  16. Robin Gerlach

    I’ve been saying this for days I made it very clear to my neighbors who are clearly out here from California to party!! NO social distancing just socializing!! Thank you for acknowledging this now will someone bring it to the Town council city governments attention! The center of town grocery stores and Walmart are over run with all these visitors and it won’t be long before someone coming out here will be the 1st one to spread this thing I’ve been preaching at work and praying it doesn’t happen but I’m afraid it’s too late because like someone said earlier everyone is just too selfish and treating this like a God dam vacation!!!????????

  17. Bianca Holtrop

    Very well written John????????????

  18. Sherry Smith

    How right you are could not believe it

  19. Chris Ponce

    Anne-Marie Smith ???? Spot on!

  20. Totally agree 100%! Even tho this is a resort town and survives by all the vacationers, it DOES NOT have the resources to handle an outbreak of COVID! If everyone follows the rules and stays home this will all be over much quicker but from the looks of it that doesn’t seem to be what others are thinking! They are thinking how fun it is to come out here and hang out at the bars and party with NO social distancing! It’s insane! This isn’t the flu that is killing more people than COVID, this is a virus that will kill and spread faster than anything we have ever seen! You may feel fine but be giving it to others, is that really worth the time you are partying at the bars? It’s airborne for 3 hours and stays on surfaces up to 9 days!! The bars will still be there when this us over, but possibly not if people don’t start following the guidelines and prolong this nightmare even longer!!

  21. Teri Crawford

    I don’t understand the reaction state of mind our La Paz County Supervisors and Town Council have taken. Great way to look out for the people who voted you in office. Why is Parkerlive our only voice to the people maybe he should take office.

  22. Elizabeth Abel

    Someone is advertising rental houses in the Keys saying “social distancing availability here”. It doesn’t seem like that’s what Parker needs – 10+ people sharing a 3 bedroom house and going to the bars. It makes me so mad!

  23. Great article. Unfortunately we are some of the snowbirds and due to an other health issue are unable to travel right now. We are practicing social distancing, isolation and only go to the grocery store when absolutely necessary.

  24. Carol Geary


  25. Martin Sudicky

    “You know what’s weird about this crisis? If every person on earth, right now, decided to freeze in place for just 14 days – to press the pause button for just 2 weeks at home – the virus would die off completely and life would be back to normal”. This is a pretty stupid thing to say….people are infected an the virus is in its latency. Food needs to get to market and consumers need to go get it. There is no magic two weeks at home and it will “go away”.

  26. John Wright

    Martin- There’s a lot of air between the current situation and a scenario where not even food can get to market! This sentence isn’t about advocating such an extreme but about emphasizing doing all we can.

  27. Dam Havasu

    Lets just all do our part and make the Fooking Chinese Virus history for once and all. LETS ALL DO OUR PART!!!! p.s. send me some TP.

  28. A great article! Ask yourself how many nurses are in Parker? Havasu? Drs? Are there enough people, beds and meds? So when you go out to that bar with all your friends who you know “don’t” have the virus look at them and think which one will be turned away because there aren’t enough beds will it be you or your friend or when you go home your mom? Taking a chance , rolling the dice, I hope it’s worth it!

  29. Anne-Marie Smith

    Dado all of you care about your kids? Your family? I mean it’s not asking alot! Just stay home until it’s under control.

  30. Dam Havasu

    Dr OZ say to stay home and have lots of SEX. Lots. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  31. Shannon Henry

    There are no test in this county keep your bitch asses at home . This isnt out of sight out of mind this shit is real.

  32. Well said. This is a tough time for everyone and we are learning more everyday. We are in uncharted, river waters here…

  33. There seems to be zero social distancing. You do t care one damn bit when you are going out to bars or fast food places. These are not essential for ANYONE other than first responder s and health care workers. STAY HOME.
    We will all be burying a loved one soon or many, if we don’t.
    Are you really ok with being that assyoke that spread it?

  34. We are a tribal program and are still open for regular business seeing our clients and conducting group therapy in spite of the quarantine that is recommended. We have COVID protocols in place such as screening, sanitizing our offices, furniture and group areas after every encounter but who’s to say it will prevent someone who is asymptomatic from passing on the virus to staff and group members. I’m over 60 with chronic health conditions so it makes me worry.

  35. Chris Disario

    Be safe and stay the distance 6 feet or better yet stay at home????this is serious

  36. Mauricio Diaz

    Allison Stewart Good article weird I never thought of the winter birds .

  37. Thank you for this article. As a resident of Lake Havasu City, I see this happening on a daily basis. an influx of people coming in, especially from California. As many own vacation homes here , I understand they have the right. It’s sad situation!!! We do not have the resources to handle this. . Our average age is 55 yrs old. We could possibly lose 1/2 our population from this virus. . Stay home ruling in California should mean “in your permanent home”. Do your part!! Part y when we have won this war!!!

  38. Great article John I to totally agree with everything you have said and I’m just amazed on how the Town of Parker La Paz County and CRIT did not join together to protect our community. If the state isn’t going to step up and protect us then these three entities need to.

  39. Angela Salitre

    I think everyone should stay home. Like the article said, Parker doesn’t have the resources to handle an outbreak. The more people keep going there increases the likelihood of spreading.

  40. Finally…..thank you John Wright for putting our thoughts into words….just hope people wake up before it’s too late……

  41. Ray Holland

    This is going to come around every flu season now they’re going to send us back to work in a week it’s a terrible thing but 50 people have died in California out of 45 million we’re just gonna have to learn to wash our hands and practice social distancing but we are going to have to learn to move on with life

  42. Cody Goodman

    I’ve gotta drop off the boat!

  43. Robin Schilling

    I know of a business in Havasu that says if you have travelled outside the county within 14 days do not come in.

  44. Ron Bales

    You’re all overreacting!!!! If it’s so bad explain why banks are open and the post office is still selling stamps and construction is considered essential I call b.s.

  45. Ollie Ruth Prosser

    River bars are open though. If they’re open, they will come.

  46. Jeanie Kemme Young

    Elizabeth Abel I agree ????

  47. Well said. I wish our mayor in Lake Havasu City would take it serious. Instead he is asking for the visitors to come and put us all at risk. We all need to give up things at this time of medical war to survive and win this war.

  48. Great article. The U.S. has to slow down the spread of the virus. Otherwise parts of the U.S. will be like Italy, where the very sick, whether from Corona Virus, Influenza, or “just” a heart attack or stroke, will not have a bed to receive care. Most people in La Paz county who get sick from Covid-19 will survive, as long as the medical system doesn’t get overwhelmed. Sadly, it is only a matter of time before we get our first “confirmed” cases and I want all our older (and younger) critically ill patients to have the best chance at survival, no matter what they came into the hospital for.

  49. Rauni Hunter

    I would like to quickly add that any rental RGR had during this time has been cancelled by the renter and we have had zero calls about renting homes right now. People are in the homes that they own. Maybe this is something that our community needs to consider. What if there was an emergency on July 4 weekend or during the duration of winter visitor time when said ‘vacationers’ are here?

  50. CAN we agre Pisident Trump is leedership

  51. Austin Bradley Diaz

    If the whole world shutting down seems like a great time to be ignorant. #justliketrump

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