SEDONA, AZ — The Mayor of Sedona is asking visitors to stay home to reduce the spread of coroanvirus in her community.
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” said Mayor Sandy Moriarty. “It’s incredible, it really is crowded, it’s too crowded,” said Moriarty.
Pictures from camping grounds and popular hiking trails taken over the weekend show more than a hundred hikers waiting to cross Devil's Bridge.
“It was literally a line of people, waiting to get out on the bridge, very close to each other and asking each other to take pictures,” said Moriarty.
She’s now working with the forest service to close trails down - an incredibly difficult decision as tourism is the life blood of the area.
“Discouraging visitors at this time is probably one of the hardest things that we’ve ever had to decide to do,” said Jennifer Wesselhoff with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.
Three million people make their way to Sedona every year - the months of March through May the busiest of them all.
“Now is not the time to visit Sedona or anywhere,” said Wesselhoff.
Mayor Moriarty says the city has limited resources and needs to make sure those who call the community home are prepared.
“Every extra person that’s here at this time is stressing our infrastructure, our grocery stores, our health services facilities," said Moriarty.
Services already stretched thin as the coronavirus is expected to peak in the next six weeks.
The Verde Valley Medical Center the area’s only hospital is expected to see an increase in COVID-19 patients from nearby rural communities and Indian reservations.
“This is an extraordinary situation and at this time we just find it necessary to say please stay at your home,” said Moriarty.