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Susquehanna Life

Episode 2: Spring 2020 Susquehanna Living in a Time of Coronavirus

Susquehanna Living in a Time of Coronavirus

Show Notes

As Coronavirus or Covid-19 keeps many of us isolated in our homes, residents in the Susquehanna Valley have the fortune of being surrounded by many natural resources. With large gatherings and schools cancelled or disrupted, this spring is the perfect time to get outside for strolling, hiking, biking, and paddling. In this episode of Susquehanna Life Out Loud we share with your some of the many free resources in the region we can enjoy. With the help of Dr. Natasha DeJarnett at the National Environmental Health Association, we discuss safe ways to get out into nature while protecting yourself, your loved ones, your pets, and the community. Dr. DeJarnett also answers questions about Coronavirus, who is most at risk, and what we can do to keep from getting and spreading the virus. She provides specific information for those of us living in rural communities in the Susquehanna Valley.  

Also in this episode Host Peterson Toscano reveals highlights from the Spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life Magazine. He chats with writer Brian Auman about a new and growing activity taking place in the Central Pennsylvania mountains that has the potential to bring a lot of people to the Susquehanna Valley.

Brian Auman in his article The Secret is Out believes Mountain Biking can be a driver for regional economic growth. More importantly, he says Interscholastic Mountain Biking provides an exciting new activity for middle and high school students. In our show he shares the history of mountain biking in the region and why he believes we are poised to see the region become a destination for serious mountain bikers from all over the country. 

Peterson also chats with 16 year old, Luly, from the Centre County Crow teams. She loves hurtling down the hill as fast as possible, and advises listeners to always wear a helmet. Luly's mom, Margot coaches the team and points out how great the program is for the youth in the region looking for new opportunities. 

We also learn about the Susquehanna Valley Greenway Partnership, an ambitious plan to use trails and waterways to connect towns along a 500 mile stretch of the river. Alana Jajko, director of communications and outreach, tells us about two trails you can enjoy right now. 

Whenever heading out into the woods, remember to protect yourself and your pets from insects that cause diseases. For information on the ticks in our woods and precautions for people and pets visit Penn State Extension. They also have a page with information about mosquito bites along with guidelines for safely using insect repellent

Susquehanna Life Magazine publisher, Erica Shames, can be heard above the din of a chainsaw as she talks about the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous. Experience it for yourself April 23rd, 24th, and 25th in Ridgeway, PA.

Erica also tells us how to make her very own Sesame Noodle Recipe. Loaded with spring vegetables, it is the perfect dish for the season. 

Peterson looks through nearly 10 pages from the Spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life Magazine to share a few events that he is planning to attend. Out of hundreds of possibilities, this is his short list:

  • Promised Land State Park in Greentown, PA will host Eagles—Masters of the Sky on April 11
  • May 3rd to June 14th see The Needle Art Exhibit at the Fort Hunter Mansion. And while you are there you can enjoy the Fort Hunter Greenway trail.
  • The  Covered Bridge Bus Tour in Columbia County takes off on May 16th

And so much more including events for children and the whole family. There is also a special listing of events to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

NOTE: Before going to any of these events, we encourage you to contact the organizers to learn if the event has been canceled or postponed. 

See the complete Events Guide in the Spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life Magazine. 

You will also learn about Restaurant Weeks taking place in the Valley.

  • Montour and Columbia counties: March 20th to the 29th. 
  • Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties: April 19th to April 26th.

You can hear Susquehanna Life Out Loud on Podbean, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher Radio. Let us know where you hear podcasts, and we will submit our show to that platform. 

See a listing of where you can buy our magazine and find out about subscription options. Do you want to be a sponsor of Susquehanna Life Magazine? Find out about advertising options

For questions, comments, suggestions, and recommendations, you can reach us at

Many thanks to all the guests and to Raúl Díaz Palomar and music from his album: Música Para Poder 


Peterson Toscano (00:00):

Hi Peterson Toscano here. Before we start the show, I realize a lot of people are worried about the Coronavirus. Most of us have questions. I know I do. So, in addition to all the cool stuff I have planned for the show, the fun interviews and all, I also reached out to Dr. Natasha DeJarnett, a public health specialist at the National Environmental Health Association. Later in the show, Dr DeJarnett will share important information and specific things we can do in our everyday lives to protect our loved ones ourselves and the people in our communities. She has creative ideas of what to do when we're stuck indoors and very specific information that pertains to us here in the Susquehanna Valley. She will also help us understand the kind of outdoor activities we can enjoy during this time of social distancing that answers all of my questions about symptoms, face masks, and what to do if we think we're infected. Some were things I already knew, so it was a good reminder, but she also shared a lot of new information I hadn't heard before. Oh, and also before we officially start the show, Erica Shames, publisher of Susquehanna Life magazine, called me up with some thoughts of her own to share with you about coronavirus and living here in the Susquehanna Valley.

Speaker 2 (01:17):

Susquehanna Life magazine has always been something of a beacon of optimism. We showcase the high quality of life that we all enjoy throughout Pennsylvania and one of the reasons for that high quality of life is the beautiful outdoors, the beautiful rolling hills the forests, hiking and biking trails that we have access to as well as the accessable Susquehanna River. And it's not only the physical health benefits that we can enjoy, but also the emotional calm that being outside can instill in us. The spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life magazine has many more ideas about events and how to make the most of spring, even in the face of this scary virus that has us freaking out about our health and our future. It's not the first time that we've experienced a crisis. If you look back on our history, you can see several floods that have really had a devastating impact on all of us, but I think it's those times of crisis that helped to bring us all together. It reminds us of our humanity that we're stronger together, stick together and help each other. This too shall pass.

Peterson Toscano (02:39):

Thank you Erica, and thank you for joining me on this podcast. I have a lot to share with you, so let's start the show. 

Peterson Toscano (2:48) 

Welcome to Susquehanna Life Out Loud, the companion podcast to Susquehanna Life magazine. I’m Peterson Toscano. In this episode we're talking about the spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life magazine. Susquehanna Life publisher Erica Shames will tell us about upcoming events in the region, including a really loud event that sounds potentially dangerous, but somehow beautiful and interesting art gets created. Trust me, it'll all make sense. 

Brian: Do we want to open it up to the world or is it our best kept secret? 

That's writer Brian Auman. He introduced me to an entire community here in the Valley I didn't even know existed. In a moment, we'll let you in on the secret. 

Now if you like hiking, biking, walking your dog or paddling, you're in luck. There's a group that's developing a series of trails and waterways. These will connect towns along a 500 mile stretch of the Susquehanna River. Alana Jajko tells us all about the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership. She also lets us know about trails you can enjoy right now. Later in the show you will hear our restaurant spotlight. Actually it's more of a food explosion. 

Peterson Toscano (4:04):

But for my first guest, Brian Auman. Brian grew up in Centre County and now lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. In the years between, though, Brian has seen the world.

Brian Auman (4:15):

Big city Philadelphia to digging wells in the Peace Corps in West Africa. So it's like I've been to Timbuktu and back.

Peterson Toscano (4:23):

Professionally, Brian is a landscape architect.

Brian  (4:26):

Large-scale watershed, environmental focused work. Most people want to ask me what shrubs I should plant in their yard and I'm like, if you've seen my yard, you would know not to ask me that question. So just, just let nature go is my concept.

Peterson (4:42):

I'm definitely curious about what Brian does for work, but I'm here for another reason. In the spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life magazine, you will read Brian's article about a well-kept secret. Oh, he's happy to tell you about it, but he's not yet sure we should let the word get out beyond the Susquehanna Valley.

Brian (5:01):

It's worthy of attracting people and we're really at the point of do, do we want to market it? Do we want to promote this area.

Peterson (5:09):

Brian is part of something new happening in our woods. He writes about an activity that is a lot of fun. It also provides young people with a fresh outlet and a place to learn and grow and it has the potential to contribute to the economy of the region. Brian is excited to tell us about the new and growing sport of interscholastic mountain biking.

Brian (5:31):

You know interscholastic mountain biking probably kicked off, you know, 15, 20 years ago in where you typically think of mountain biking, you know, California and Utah. Pennsylvania -- the league has been around for five years and this year there are going to be somewhere between 900 and a thousand riders and that's probably 30 some teams across the state of Pennsylvania. 

And here in central Pennsylvania we have, you know, four teams. We have the Lycoming County Composite team. We have the Buffalo Valley that I'm part of. Centre County has a team and Danville actually has a school district based team.

Peterson (6:05):

Oh okay. That jingle you hear in the background? That's Brian's dog Bestie. She's eyeing my hand held mic and she thinks it's something for her to fetch. Now, Pennsylvania is part of a growing trend nationally.

Brian (6:21:

There's leagues in places you don't think of when you think of mountain biking. They're in Kansas and Nebraska, Indiana, so the Midwest is really growing.

Peterson (6:30):

While we love our mountains here in central Pennsylvania, I know people out West of the state and the country scoff. When they see our peaks, you call those mountains. And actually it is hard for me to imagine mountain biking in this region.

Brian (6:44):

Yeah. I think central Pennsylvania is really on the verge of being discovered as a, as a mountain bike destination. Yeah. You always hear that they're not real mountains, you know, and they're, they're actually more technical trails here than you would find in Colorado. You know, Colorado, Utah has these nice flowy trails. We have rock, you know, there's people that are excited about coming here and experiencing that because it is technical.

Peterson (7:10):

With access to these excellent trails, interscholastic mountain biking teams are on the rise. Young people in middle school and high school take part in regular practices, fun rides and state competitions.

Brian (7:24):

It's exciting to talk about competitions, but I think that's one of the best things about the sport is that really downplays the competition side of it. There's so many different ways to contribute. Some kids just ride for fun and they don't want to have anything to do with the competition side of it. You actually can be the state champion in your age group and it also counts how many volunteer hours you contribute to trail building and maintenance. Last year they were up fixing trails in Bald Eagle State Forest, so this is a direct contribution to the state of Pennsylvania and how they maintain and operate their trails. The league is being a good community player in all of this. Young people are trying to find their place, their niche in the community, in a team and a group. This just gives different kids different ways to show their skills and shine in different ways. So again, there's some really commendable things about the sport and what it does and how it builds team and how it builds community.

Peterson (8:21):

Okay. Having given up on my microphone, Bestie has lodged her complaint by chewing loudly on a bone.

Peterson (8:34):

The teams encourage lots of people to get involved, including those who are often left out.

Brian (8:40):

You know there's also this grit girls riding together trying to address this issue of the gender gap that you know, only 20% of participants in this sport are, are, are, are young women. I look at what's going on at Danville and Centre County is great examples that have this, you know, high percentage of young women participating in the sport and that's something I really hope to create that kind of environment here to foster that. Something else I like about the league is you have these kids getting into it and the parents are going out and buying bikes too. Just to be part of it.

Peterson (9:16):

In the spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life magazine, you will find Brian's article in the business life section of the magazine. It's part of a feature about economic development for the region.

Brian (9:28):

Yeah. I think our, our small town and rural landscapes are this, this region's greatest assets. And when I think of where I've gone mountain biking, that was just my favorites. They tended to be this small town that were, they were real places, they were authentic. We have that here. It's just distributed. It's not one town, but it's, it's Natalie, it's Danville, it's Lewisburg, it’s State College. You know, we have this regional approach that's not just one town. It's not like building something and hoping they'll come. I think it's more if we can build these things for our local community that, you know, they, they first and foremost see it as something for them that they benefit from. Then uh, you know, the tourism will come if it's done right. Just getting more people out in the environment, out in nature. I mean that's, that's kind of the goal of my profession and landscape architecture is to connect people to nature in a meaningful way.

Peterson (10:41):

Brian makes mountain biking sound so attractive. He also boast about how much young people like the sport, but I needed to find out for sure. In a moment I chat with two high school students. I want to find out the word on the trail directly from the riders. But first, with the warmer spring weather, residents of the Susquehanna Valley are crawling out of hibernation and looking for opportunities to get into nature and the spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life magazine. Alana Jajko writes about the Susquehanna  Greenway Partnership. She also highlights some of the best trails in the region. Her article may be very curious, so I called her up to find out more. But, wait, what exactly is agreeing way and what makes our so special?

Alana Jajko (11:33):

It's basically a combination of a green space and a Parkway, meaning that it's a green space in the sense that it's a corridor of land often in an urban area or a town, and it's usually utilized to connect people in places similar to a Parkway but minus the car. So it's really for hiking, walking, biking. They include ribbons of greenspace that envelops parks, trails, gardens, historic sites, natural features. Sometimes they follow a railroad bed, and in our case with the Susquehanna Greenway, it follows a natural feature that being the Susquehanna River. We wanted to bring this idea of the Greenway to central Pennsylvania and we wanted to have more trails than any other state in the United States, which is a big, big undertaking. Once complete, the Susquehanna Greenway will be a 500 mile corridor within Pennsylvania, including the West branch, the North branch, the middle, and the lower. The idea is to have people be able to walk, bike, or paddle from town to town along this greater network.

Peterson (12:39):

This project excites me a lot. I live in Sunbury. I daily enjoy walks around town and along the river.

Alana (12:46):

Yeah, and there's so many great opportunities in the Sunbury area already. You have the Shikellamy State Park is really a hotspot there, the overlook and the Marina and so many great resources to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.

Peterson (13:01):

But I'm ready to explore farther from home. Luckily Susquehanna Greenway Partnership produces three newsletters annually. In them, they explore three different types of outdoor activities.

Alana (13:12):

We have paddling, getting out kayaking on the water trail, parks and preserves. And then we have trails.

Peterson (13:20):

Alana's article in Susquehanna Life magazine highlights some of the best trails in the region. I asked her to tell us about two of these trails.

Alana (13:29):

We have the J Manley Robbins trail. Thought to be the first rail trail in the country. It's just about 3.8 miles. Good for running, hiking, biking, getting out with your dog, taking it for a walk. It's in the Hess recreation area in Montour County, and that's just a really beautiful trail. There's even a covered bridge there, which is kinda nice. And in the middle Susquehanna, we have the Fort Hunter park trail, another a riverfront trail. One of the most popular features of this area is the Rockville Bridge, which is I think the longest single arch railroad bridge in the world. You'll see trains. It's still active.

Peterson (14:09):

In her article. “Five of the Best Susquehanna Greenway Hikes,” Alana Jajko includes beautiful photographs of these trails and their magnificent views.

Alana (14:18):

So the Susquehanna Greenway is just a really great resource that's right in our backyard. It's so easy to get outside and hike or bike or paddle or hop in your kayak, get in the river, go for a walk and you know join up with a trail.

Peterson (14:33):

In addition to the article and the magazine, Alana tells us about online resources that can help you.

Alana (14:40):

So looking to learn more about these trails and also just any trails that are within the greater Susquehanna  Greenway network can visit the website at or or you can also find the Greenway on social media, both Instagram and Facebook. Every few weeks we do a trail feature Tuesday and always feature a new trail to help people get outdoors and really just enjoy the region and all these outdoor resources that we have right in our backyard.

Peterson (15:12):

Coming up in the show, you will hear about events in the region you do not want to miss. Plus an opportunity to sample a region's best restaurants. 

But there is still more for me to learn about mountain biking. Brian Auman, in his article, “The Secret is Out,” believes mountain biking can be a driver for regional economic growth. More importantly, he tells me interscholastic mountain biking provides an exciting new activity for middle and high school students. But what do these young people have to say about themselves? I chatted with Luly, a 10th grader, who spent most of her life in the State College area. When she was 12, though, she and her family lived in Spain for a year.

Luly (16:12):

I've been riding for four years at this point and I actually started when we lived in Spain because there's a lot of really great gravel biking. So my family kind of forced me to do that. And then I got pretty strong and when I came back to State College got thrown onto a mountain bike and I just really loved it.

Peterson (16:33):

Luly definitely enjoys being on a mountain biking team.

Luly (1637):

It's really, really fun. You get to hang out with all your friends and it's like great release after a school day cause you can go and let some energy out. On Sundays, you will just go on a group ride somewhere that maybe is a little farther out of town or a little more difficult because we have more time and daylight.

Peterson (16:55):

Luly used to be part of competitive soccer teams. Ah, she didn't like that so much though.

Luly (17:00):

You had to be really good for the, and the coaches would favor the people who are better and mountain biking just isn't, isn't like that. It's, it's really about just getting anybody and everybody onto the mountain bike and just having fun about it. It's not about the competition.

Peterson (17:19):

I also spoke with Paul, a 15-year-old on the Danville team. He also mentioned a different type of spirit on these biking teams.

Paul (17:27):

Uh, it's different from a sports such as soccer because you're, you're still on a team, but it's different. Your teammates are cheering for you. You don't really feel pressure from teammates that if you mess up, they're gonna get mad at you or something. Like if I mess up, it's okay. These guys know I'm doing my best. I like being outside riding my bike and I like the physical pain of going uphill and pushing yourself to go faster. And I love hanging out with my friends on the mountain bike team. Just the fellowship that I get with them.

Peterson (18:03):

Luly like Paul likes the physical exhilaration of the ride.

Luly (18:08):

It's kinda like riding a roller coaster except do you have control over their problem coaster? The faster you go you build up reflexes so they don't hit trees and stuff. If you're going really fast downhill, it's sort of just hanging on and hoping that those reflexes stay intact while you're flying down the hill. Mountain biking really gave me a lot of confidence. After coming back from Spain, I didn't have so many friends and mountain biking just really gave me a lot of confidence and has helped me get into a lot more things in high school that I probably wouldn't have had the guts to do if I didn't mountain bike.

Peterson (18:47):

I thought about something Brian almond told me about gender equity in the sport. How is it being a girl on a mountain biking team?

Luly (18:57):

Mountain biking is a predominantly male sport and it's really important to make sure that there's gender equity and making sure that girls feel comfortable joining teams and really encouraging girls to join. Like some teams in the league that I race with that are 50 boys and two girls, which I think is a little ridiculous. And I feel really strongly about getting more girls on bikes.

Peterson (19:27):

I asked Paul and Luly if they have any advice for young people curious about mountain biking.

Luly (19:33):

Always wear a helmet, all the time.

Paul (19:35):

You don't need to be nervous if your kid will practice the skills, and won't do anything stupid without practicing and all.

Peterson (19:44):

Paul also added some advice for parents,

Paul (19:47):

So if you're a parent, you should try not liking too because there's so many other parents who started mountain biking from their kids getting on the team,

Peterson (19:56):

Which got me thinking I should talk to a parent too. Lucky for me, Luly’s mom is a coach of a team.

Luly’s Mom (20:03):

So we're the Centre County Crows. CaCaw. You got to do a CaCaw afterwards.

Peterson (20:09):

Margo, Luly’s mom, loves the wilds of the Susquehanna  Valley woods, but she started out life in America's largest city.

Margo (20:19):

I grew up in New York city, smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. I bike commuted to school, which was pretty hairy but pretty fun and I wore a helmet. I'll do any type of biking. I love mountain biking, but if I can get on a bike everyday just to get to work, that's great too.

Peterson (20:37):

Margo enjoys coaching an interscholastic mountain biking team in part because of the careful training she received as a coach. She also sees how great it is for Luly and the other young riders.

Margo (20:49):

They've really put an effort to train their coaches. We go through quite a bit of training and they really help us learn how to teach those skills to kids. So I feel like it's a pretty, it's pretty safe in the sense that we really had these basically curriculum to make sure our kids are learning what they need to know in order to be on the trails and have fun. And then there's a strong effort made to have all kids feel like they belong there. Like they're included. That they can start from basically scratch and get the skills they need to be out in the, on the trails, and biking. Another benefit is the kids are learning a lifelong sport, something they'll be able to do for the rest of their life. I personally think one of the things I love most about it is having all these kids out in the woods. You know, they're out there, they're having fun seeing different natural settings. I think that's a really positive thing.

Peterson (21:40):

Yeah, it all sounds wonderful. In fact, it got me thinking I should try mountain biking out for myself until I remember how Luly and Paul described those wild rides they take in the woods. I don't know, maybe I'm just too old to build up new reflexes so I can avoid hitting trees. I followed up with Brian.

Brian (21:59):

This is one of the sports that can keep people active, you know, well into their sixties, seventies. And some of the riders that I ride with are still are better than I am, are in their seventies and uh, they're, they're an inspiration.

Peterson (22:14):

Okay. I'll think about it. And I hope you do too, especially if you are in middle school or high school.

Brian (22:20):

Informational sessions coming up here in Lewisburg at the Union County library on March 17th, April 16th and May 18th, 6:30 PM, at the Union County library. So anybody interested in coming out, learning more about it, what it entails. Uh, we'll have information that night. Buffalo Valley Composite MTB team, so that would get you to the Facebook page, Buffalo Valley Composite MTB team

Peterson (22:51):

To find out about other teams in Pennsylvania. Visit the website,, We have all these links for you in our show notes. 

Peterson  (23:08):

This episode of Susquehanna Life Out Loud premieres at a strange time. People are scrambling to get ready for and hide from Coronavirus. I don't know about you, but I've got a lot of questions. With so much information out there, it's important to find a trusted source. I am so fortunate to know Dr. Natasha DeJarnett, a public health expert. We collaborated on projects and a podcast when she worked for the American Public Health Association. She has appeared multiple times on Citizens' Climate Radio, another podcast I produce. Dr DeJarnett has taught me about health issues for children in cities like Harrisburg, survivors of hurricanes in Texas and coal miners in Appalachia. I called her up to see if she could answer some of my Coronavirus questions. Hello, Natasha. Thank you for joining us on Susquehanna Life Out Loud. 

Dr. Natasha DeJarnett (24:03):

Thank you so much, Peterson. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts. And my thoughts are with those who are affected by coronavirus and the public and environmental health professionals who are working to prevent the spread of the disease as well as the medical professionals who are out there on the front lines of treating it.

Peterson Toscano  (24:25):

I have so many questions. Please. First introduce yourself to our listeners. Then could you tell us what are some of the do's and don'ts around this new virus?

Dr DeJarnett (24:35):

I am Dr Natasha DeJarnett and I am the interim associate director of program and partnership development at the National Environmental Health Association. In addition to protecting ourselves and our families, there's much that we can do in the space of protection. First, there are things that you should do and then there are things to avoid, in terms of the things to do. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and be sure to scrub well between your fingers and around the fingernail. Use sanitizer if you can't quickly access soap and water and then you also want to clean and disinfect your frequently touched surfaces. Those may include tables, door knobs, light switches, cell phones, toilets, faucets and other surfaces that are touched frequently. Things to avoid. On the other hand, avoid touching your face, your nose, your eyes, your mouth, avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid large crowds and then you also want to avoid cruises right now. And even then essential air travel.

Peterson Toscano (25:50):

You and I have discussed a lot of issues that affect people differently with so many challenges. We are often all in this same boat together, just not on the same deck. With Coronavirus who is most vulnerable right now?  And what does that vulnerability look like?

Dr DeJarnett (26:08):

Though we are all at risk, um, this can be especially challenging for older adults, so we want to be vigilant with preventing the spread of the infection to them. If you're a caretaker, you also want to make sure that you're washing your hands before caring for them or touching any common surfaces. Also, you want to note that our older adults may be socially isolated. You want to check on them, you want to make a phone call and check on our older adults in these times. There are also people with chronic diseases. As I said, we're all at risk, but folks with chronic diseases are more susceptible to Coronavirus. This may include people that have heart disease, diabetes or lung disease. People with these conditions should take additional precautions to avoid exposures, identify someone maybe that can help them to get groceries or household supplies.

Dr DeJarnett (27:06):

That way they can reduce their exposures and things. Environment. Also maybe encouraging them to shop at less busy times or even utilizing online ordering or pickup and delivery. Another group I want to draw attention to are those that are income insecure. Many schools are closed and parents or guardians might not have the flexibility to take off work. Job closures may affect people's income and some may not have sick time or could feel pressured to come to work if they're sick to ensure having a paycheck. What I encourage in this time is for employees to ask their employers what's the plan -- work to understand the employers’ regulations around this. And then the last vulnerable group I wanted to share with you are children. With so many schools closed across the nation, this may have a heavy impact on children whose meals come largely from what they eat at school. This is considered food insecure. Here in Washington D C I received word that the DC Food Project is compiling a list of emergency food access resources, including three meals and places where people can go for help in other areas. School lunch programs are still working to provide these essential meals through delivery services or even planned distribution sites. So those are some groups I wanted to bring to our attention and to the forefront as Coronavirus is hardest on these vulnerable groups. So we're all at risk.

Peterson Toscano  (28:48):

I've been hearing a lot about social distancing. It seems inconvenient for everyone, but why is social distancing so important and when should we self-isolate? Oh and do I need to run out and get a face mask? I'm sorry, I just have so many questions.

Dr. DeJarnett (29:05):

Okay. Social distancing is very important to slowing the spread of this disease. This is why schools are going online. Employers are allowing telework. Large gatherings are being postponed, canceled. Even Disney World is closed. Broadway is closed, NBA has suspended games. The NCAA has canceled the tournament and the list continues. So if you suspect that you may have potentially been exposed, it is essential that you self-isolate. If you have been potentially exposed and you have symptoms, stay home and call your doctor. Some of those symptoms that you want to be aware of include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Now, if you feel like you're developing mild symptoms, stay home and call your doctor. You want to tell them that you have these symptoms and that you may have Coronavirus. And if your doctor determines that you're not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home.

Dr DeJarnett (30:15):

Many can recover at home. But if you're experiencing some of the following, you'll need to seek immediate medical attention, including difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. Um, persistent pain in the chest, feeling disoriented or confused, or if your lips or face turn bluish. If you are sick, you want to do everything you can to prevent it from spreading to others. So you want to stay home except to get medical care. You want to call ahead before you go to the doctor. They need to be prepared for your visit, in case it could be Coronavirus. If you are saying you should wear a face mask if you are not sick because of the potential shortage and supply of these, it's not advised that people that are not sick wear these face masks unless you're a caregiver. And if you're a caregiver for someone who is sick and they themselves are not able to wear a face mask, then it is appropriate for a healthy person to wear a face mask.

Dr DeJarnett (31:20):

Otherwise, mainly the face mask or for those that are sick, you also want to cover your coughs and sneezes, so you want to cough into your sleeve or elbow or use a tissue but dispose of it immediately and wash your hands. Avoid sharing household items, if you're sick. Remote controls for example -- you want to clean those surfaces and disinfect every day. Once you're beginning to feel better, you'll need to work with your doctor to determine when it is safe for you to discontinue isolation. Many can recover at home, but you must follow your doctor's guidance around this. So keep your hands clean. Avoid close contact with, distance between yourself and other people up to six or beyond six feet and you want to wash your hands off them. 

Peterson Toscano (32:17):

Natasha, I know you live in a big city, but here in central Pennsylvania it's pretty quiet. There are a lot less people and I know we should avoid crowded stores and movie theaters, but what about going outside? When is it okay to go out to garden or go for a walk or just enjoy nature?

Dr DeJarnett (32:35):

I'm glad you asked about that. I want encourage folks of the Susquehanna Valley to not let your guard down just because you live in an area that's less populous right now. You still want to engage in social distancing and avoiding that close contact. Um, especially if you do not know if someone is sick or not. So once a, keep that six foot barrier and then reduce your interaction with people to lower your chances of exposures and especially practicing good hygiene. So to my best knowledge, healthy people can go outdoors, but you still need to follow those precautions of avoiding large crowds, washing or sanitizing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth. Now, time outdoors may have its benefits, including boosting vitamin D levels. It's also an opportunity for exercise together. This may be beneficial for immunity and even, um, fighting against stress and anxiety.

Dr DeJarnett (33:43):

I am not aware of any data on how Coronavirus and outdoor environments may affect it, but the main reason to avoid outdoors is to avoid close contact with someone who may be sick. But also I want you to consider that respiratory conditions may be exacerbated by cold weather, for example, or even pollen season. So if you're already sick, it's advised that you don't go out. If you need sunlight, try to get near a window if possible. What's critical right now is avoiding potential exposures by avoiding large crowds. For example, especially in areas with for ventilation and engaging in frequent hand washing.

Peterson Toscano  (34:32):

As we're talking about going outside, I'm suddenly reminded that there are other risks in the woods and fields ticks, mosquitoes for instance, fleas. So as we head out to enjoy nature, we need to protect ourselves. And I have some links in our show notes about how to protect ourselves and our pets from these various pests. And I hear you Natasha, loud and clear. I need to wash my hands frequently and I have and they are raw and painful from drying out and cracking. So now after I washed my hands I slather on some hand lotion with all this attention. My hands are totally confused right now. Okay. Now not everyone can go outside. Lots of us are stuck inside cooped up with family who we love a lot. Do you have any suggestions on how to spend this indoor time?

Dr DeJarnett (35:27):

Well first I tell you to clean, as that has been some really strong advice throughout this pandemic is that we need to ensure really sanitary practices. So clean. Pick this time for that. Also maybe be artistic, so paint or draw or scrapbook, but you can also stimulate your mind. You can read or write. I've even seen suggestions of folks writing about their experience in this pandemic. This is something that our children and our children's children will want to know, especially if we have a success story on the other side of how we were able to overcome this pandemic in stimulating your mind. Work on that 5,000 piece puzzle that you've got hidden away in the back of your closet. Also try something new, but I encourage you if you take advantage of this to take on low risk activities. I wouldn't recommend starting woodcarving which could earn you a trip to the emergency room and thereby increase your risk of exposure. But also catch up on things that you've been putting up like organizing. And then this can also be a valuable time to reconnect with people by phone, like call your grandma for example. As I said, we need to check in on our older adults. So call your grandma.

Peterson Toscano (36:53):

And let me add, you can also mail letters to your grandma or to anyone you know, like in the old days with paper and pen on envelopes and stamp the postal service. People will get so excited to get a note or letter in the mail or who knows, even a subscription to Susquehanna Life magazine. And Natasha, any other indoor suggestions?

Dr DeJarnett (37:14):

And lastly, my recommendation for what to do with your time and doors. Tune into your favorite podcast, which I hope is what people are doing right now.

Peterson Toscano (37:28):

Finally, Natasha, for people in the Susquehanna Valley, this is not our first rodeo. We've faced tough times before and many people survive floods. They know what it took to protect each other and then rebuild. The 2008 financial crisis hits so many of our families very hard. The opioid crisis has been painful and difficult for everyone affected by it individually and together. We have experiences of overcoming obstacles. I feel a lot of confidence in the people in central Pennsylvania. We're tough and we look after each other. I know this spirit of resiliency is a big part of what you do as a public health educator.

Dr DeJarnett (38:11):

We are resilient when we work together to help each other to come out even stronger on the other side of a crisis. We're resilient because we support our most vulnerable. For example, folks are working to protect older adults who are quite susceptible to Coronavirus. Communities are working to protect children who are dealing with schools that are closed, but those schools may have been the one place they were able to find consistent meals. So people are unifying to ensure that families have food, people are donating their leave time to their coworkers who suddenly need to take some weeks off to be home with their children while schools are closed and neighbors are even sharing babysitting responsibilities. Gandhi is quoted for saying the true measure of a society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.

Peterson Toscano  (39:10):

Many thanks to Dr Natasha DeJarnett. Natasha, you are such a rock star.

Dr DeJarnett (39:17):

Thank you, Peterson. You are the rock star. I'm so, I'm really grateful for this opportunity

Peterson Toscano  (39:25):

From the National Environmental Health Association. That was Dr Natasha DeJarnett, interim associate director of program and partnership development. You can learn That's N E H

Okay. Let's talk about upcoming events and remember in this time of coronavirus events may be canceled or postponed. Check with organizers before attending an event, and if you do not feel well or you're part of an at risk population, please, please stay home. Oh, and wash your hands.

Peterson Toscano 40:01

If you're ever at a loss for what to do in the region, just open the pages of Susquehanna Life magazine. For instance, in the spring 2020 issue, you will find nearly 10 pages of events. They're organized by sections like history, holidays, festivals, food, art and music. So Susquehanna Life publisher Erica Shames tells us about a particularly loud and artful event coming up in the spring. 

Erica Shames: 40:34

In April, there is an event called the Chainsaw Carver's Rendezvous, which started out as a tiny event in the backyard of someone's home in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, is now one of the largest of these chainsaw carving events in the country. Hundreds of carvers, hundreds of attendees, and it's really an amazing feat to see what can be created from basically a chainsaw. You know there are, each contestant is given an eight foot log and they're charged with the goal of creating an award winning piece of art and what emerges is really quite amazing. We chronicle this event and then talk about you know, where to go and how to access it. 

Peterson: 41:23

The Chainsaw Carver's rendezvous takes place April 23rd 24th and 25th in Ridgway, Pennsylvania. Dave Zukowsky wrote the story and includes photographs of carvers and their creations from last year's event.

Peterson (41:43):

I've been looking through the events listings and I've picked out some of the favorites that I think I'm going to and I thought I'd share them with you. They're only a few of the hundreds of events available.

There's an opportunity to get outdoors to Promise Land State Park in Greentown for Eagles, Masters of the Sky. That's on April 11th. , and then from May 3rd to June 14th you can see the Needle Art Exhibit at Fort Hunter Mansion and when I go there, I'm also going to enjoy that Fort Hunter Greenway Trail I just learned about. Oh and the Covered Bridge Bus Tour in Columbia County takes off on May 16th . And there are so many more events. These include events for children and for the whole family. There's also a special listing of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. 

We cannot end this episode of Susquehanna Life Out Loud without talking about food. Every issue of the magazine, you will find a recipe that's just right for the season. I just returned from the store with the ingredients for the recipe in this spring 2020 issue. Erica Shames tells us about it.

Erica (43:00):

The recipe is actually one that I created. It's one of my favorite dishes of all time called Cold Sesame Noodles with Raw Vegetables. It's pretty simple. It's a matter of creating a sauce that consists of peanut butter, tahini, ginger, garlic, all kinds of different pungent flavors, soy sauce and combining them and pouring them over either soba noodles if you want, like something whole wheat and healthy, or linguine if you're just looking for something that tastes really good. And then also cutting up a whole bunch of raw vegetables like cucumbers or scallions or peppers, those kinds of things, and then mixing the whole thing together and it really is quite delicious.

Peterson (43:58)

At this point of the show, I would tell you about a specific amazing restaurant featured in the issue, but spring is a special time for eating in the Susquehanna Valley. There's no better way to sample the best of what restaurants offer than by taking part in something called Restaurant Week. For about a week, you can pick from various restaurants where you get a stunning meal, which usually includes multiple courses. You'll choose from a specially created menu just for the Restaurant Week. You see these restaurants take the opportunity to show off what they do best, so get ready to dig in because this spring we have multiple counties announcing they're taking part in restaurant week. In Montour and Columbia counties, Restaurant Week will be March 20th to the 29th. Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties will have their restaurant week April 19th to the 26th. Learn more about restaurants in the region in the spring 2020 issue of Susquehanna Life magazine.

Peterson (45:08)

Thank you for listening to Susquehanna Life Out Loud. Our podcast is available on Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher Radio and Apple podcast. Since we're a very new podcast, giving us a rating and a review will help increase our visibility. And if you like what you heard today, please share the podcast with your friends. Many thanks to my guest, Brian Auman, Luly, Paul, Margo, Alana Jajko, Susquehanna Life Erica Shames. Oh and of course Bestie the dog. Feel free to visit us online at There you will find a comprehensive list of the many businesses that sell our magazine, or if you want us to come directly to you, look at our subscription options. Just visit Send comments, suggestions, and questions about the podcast to You can follow us on Facebook and also see many beautiful photographs through our Instagram account. You can find our show notes with links to our guests and the many resources I mentioned in today's show.

Peterson (46:07):

Just visit Susquehanna Life Out Loud is written and edited by me, Peterson Toscano. This episode of Susquehanna Life Out Loud has been brought to you by, well, it could be brought to you by your business or your organization. We're looking for sponsors for the podcast and the wonderful thing about a podcast is your ad remains out there, unlike radio where it plays and then it doesn't. Your ad will always be at the end of this podcast. So in the weeks, months, years, as listenership grows, people will continue to hear your ad. To find out about sponsoring options, email us at Thank you for listening and enjoy spring 2020.

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