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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Tom Eblen, Lexington Herald-Leader (TNS)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Scenic drives have long been a local pastime in the Lexington area, but the best way to experience the beauty of the Bluegrass region is either on two feet or two wheels.

Drive by too fast and you miss the architectural detail of an old house or the craftsmanship of a dry-laid stone fence, either of which may be 200 years old. From a car window, you can’t fully appreciate a giant burr oak or blue ash tree, which may be 400 years old. And you certainly can’t hear the birds in the branches.

Several downtown walking tour maps and guides are available at the Lexington visitors’ center, 401 W. Main Street. Some also are online at Visitlex.com, or the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation’s website, Bluegrasstrust.org. These include neighborhood guides to historic homes and the African American Heritage Trail.

Another option: Download the free LexWalk iPhone app, which has a 19-location tour with full multimedia.

Even without a map, app or agenda, Lexington’s downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods are easy, pleasant places to walk, thanks to a wise decision decades ago to run Interstates 75 and 64 around the city rather than through it.

The Gratz Park Historic District, two blocks north of Main Street between Broadway and Limestone, is one of my favorite places to walk. There you will find beautiful buildings that have sheltered some of Lexington’s most prominent citizens, including first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, educator Horace Holley, artist Victor Hammer and horseman John Gaines.

Don’t miss the recently restored fountain that writer James Lane Allen left to the “children of Lexington” when he died in 1925. It is in the park across Third Street from the campus of Transylvania University, the oldest college west of the Allegheny Mountains.

If you have time for a tour, stop by the Hunt-Morgan House. It was built in 1814 by millionaire businessman John Wesley Hunt and was the birthplace of his great-grandson, Thomas Hunt Morgan, the father of genetics and the first Kentuckian to win a Nobel Prize (for medicine, 1933). Hunt’s grandson, Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan, visited but never lived in the house.

From there, head west on Short, Second or Third streets and admire the eclectic mix of 1800s houses. When you reach Jefferson Street, you will find plenty of places to take a break: It is one of Lexington’s hottest new restaurant districts.

Triangle Park on the west end of downtown is another good place to relax. On the east end of town, don’t miss Thoroughbred Park, with Gwen Reardon’s life-size bronze sculptures of a horse race. It may be Lexington’s most-photographed place.

Downtown north of Main Street is surprisingly easy to bicycle around, despite one-way street patterns that can seem baffling.

With a bicycle, you also can cruise around the scenic Northside neighborhood up to West Sixth Brewery at the end of Jefferson Street, or up North Limestone Street to the edgier, up-and-coming NoLi district of shops, restaurants and bars.

If you prefer a walk in the country, drive out to Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, 3885 Raven Run Way near the end of Jack’s Creek Pike. This 734-acre city park along the Kentucky River Palisades has some great hiking trails.

For rural bike rides, the Legacy Trail between downtown and the Kentucky Horse Park is a good place to start. More information: Mylegacytrail.com.

For experienced cyclists, rural Fayette and surrounding counties can be a road biker’s paradise, if you know where to go. Lexington’s hub-and-spoke road system can make the spokes dangerous places to ride. But between the spokes are many beautiful, lightly traveled country roads.

Many tried-and-true routes are available on popular cycling apps such as Ridewithgps.com and Mapmyride.com. If you want company, visitors are welcome at Bluegrass Cycling Club rides, which are scheduled frequently with a variety of speeds and distances. See the ride calendar at: Bgcycling.org.

(c)2015 Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Gwen Reardon’s bronze statue group of a horse race in Thoroughbred Park is one of the most photographed places in Lexington. (Tom Eblen/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS)

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.