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With coronavirus cases climbing, Tumamoc Hill users again urged to mask up

With coronavirus cases climbing, Tumamoc Hill users again urged to mask up

Visitors wear masks while walking up Tumamoc Hill in Tucson.

Walkers on Tumamoc Hill need to wear masks to avoid the spread of the coronavirus and keep the hill open to the public, University of Arizona officials said Thursday.

The hill might close if more walkers do not comply with mask requirements, officials with the UA, which manages the hill along with Pima County, said in a news release.

Officials made a similar announcement in July when mask compliance dropped on the hill. More walkers started wearing masks after that announcement, but compliance has dropped since then, particularly among evening walkers, according to the news release.

“The inherent paradox of the use of Tumamoc during these times unfortunately continues,” Benjamin Wilder, director of the University of Arizona Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, said in the news release.

“What brings stability and release also holds the threat of the virus, due to how many people walk the hill,” Wilder said. “We know how important the hill is to individuals in our community at this time, which we are grateful for, and the last thing we want is to close the hill. However, if we view the hill as an unsafe place due to a failure to wear masks, closure remains an option.”

In an effort to promote safe use of the hill, a notification board at the bottom of the hill lists the percentage of visitors who wear masks, which is about 60-70% in the mornings and about 30% in the evenings, Wilder said.

Arrows on the hill’s paths help visitors maintain social distancing. Pima County health officials are stationed at the base of the hill on Saturday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday evenings to hand out free masks to visitors.

Contact reporter Curt Prendergast at 573-4224 or cprendergast@tucson.com or on Twitter @CurtTucsonStar

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