A second round of COVID-19 testing for Yellowstone employees yielded no positives, as coronavirus pandemic mitigation measures seem to be doing the job as more and more visitors return.
On June 4-5, health officials from Park County, Montana, tested 179 employees from the National Park Service and concession companies operating in the park. This brings the total number of employees tested in the past 10 days to 222. As part of Yellowstone’s COVID-19 mitigation plan, the testing will continue with both Montana and Wyoming.
Last week the testing of the 43 non-symptomatic employees in front-line positions and interacting with the public over the past two weeks yielded no positive COVID-19 results.
“I want to thank the states of Wyoming and Montana and our county health officials for partnering with us to increase surveillance testing capacity,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “This proactive testing is the only way for us to detect cases early and respond quickly to any employees who have the virus.”
In addition, park officials sampled wastewater systems in Gardiner, Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful between May 18-26 for COVID-19, now used as a way to detect any evidence of the coronavirus. Lab results indicated no COVID-19 in those systems during those time frames. Additional samples will be taken on June 13 and 15, which will give the park a better idea of COVID-19 increases due to reopening.
And the visitors are returning, although in limited numbers. According to a Yellowstone press release, visitation is down by a little more than half between 2019 and 2020: 42,075 vehicles entered the park on June 1-10, 2020 as opposed to 78,190 vehicles entering on June 1-10, 2019. A majority of those vehicles (27,347) entered from the three Montana entrances.
Photo by Jacob Frank of May preparations for Old Faithful Visitor Center coronavirus mitigation, courtesy National Park Service.
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