Old Faithful Visitor Center

No positives in 2nd round of Yellowstone employee COVID-19 testing

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.

RELATED STORIES: No COVID-19 cases reported among Yellowstone employees; Xanterra announces new Yellowstone operating schedule for 2020; Yellowstone Montana gates to open June 1; Sholly: Limited 2020 Yellowstone opening a success; When will Yellowstone Montana gates open? Still in planning phases; What can you expect now that Yellowstone is open?; What will your Yellowstone 2020 vacation look like?Jackson Lake Lodge, Jenny Lake Lodge won’t open in 2020Grand Teton summer 2020 plans still to be determined; Yellowstone Forever delays park donations, furloughs staffDon’t look for Yellowstone opening until late May–at the earliestYellowstone National Park closed indefinitelyCalls for a Yellowstone spring closure emergingXanterra Yellowstone lodges closed through May 21First 2020 Yellowstone shutdowns due to coronavirus announcedTBD: Coronavirus Impacts on YellowstoneExperts: Coronavirus Outbreak Could Impact 2020 Yellowstone Visitation

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