Earlier this month, I went shopping at H-E-B and bought more food than I needed. But I wasn’t stocking up my bunker; I was buying supplies for a camping trip at Big Bend National Park. Back then—a whole couple of weeks ago—the new coronavirus still felt relatively abstract. I was planning to spend spring break with my boyfriend, a teacher, under the West Texas stars, hiking along the Rio Grande, and climbing the classic South Rim trail to gaze at the dusty Chihuahuan Desert as it rolls into Mexico.
Even as Austin, where I live, slowly shut down, canceling South by Southwest and implementing new restrictions, we still planned to point the car west. Social distancing would surely be easier in remote Brewster County. But, then, things changed quickly. Last week, I read an article in Courthouse News Service in which Ekta Escovar, a pediatrician at Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine, discouraged tourists from visiting the region because of concerns the hospital could be overwhelmed by a coronavirus outbreak.
Read more from Ciara O’Rourke with Texas Monthly here.