Another round of testing, another round of good news: After 190 tests of NPS and concessionaire employees, there were no positive COVID-19 Yellowstone tests recorded, keeping the park’s winning streak alive.
The latest tests were conducted June 17 and 18.
Still, there was a scare when the results were returned. Initially, one concession employee tested positive and was immediately isolated, according to a park press release. The employee was retested twice more, and both tests came back negative. The state health office described the initial test as a “false positive” and the employee has returned to work. According to the county health officer, a small percentage of “false positives” are normal in widespread surveillance testing.
The total number of Yellowstone-employee tests completed since late May is 577. The week of June 22, 162 tests were conducted, and those results are pending. Moving forward, the park will continue to test employees in partnership with Montana and Wyoming.
This surveillance testing will continue throughout the summer and target employees who are first responders and/or work directly with the public.
Additionally, the park sampled wastewater systems in Gardiner, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful between June 13 and 16. Lab results indicated 0 percent prevalence of COVID-19 in those systems at the time they were sampled. More samples were taken at Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful between June 27 and 29, which may give the park a better idea of COVID-19 increases due to reopening. In any case, with many folks still deciding whether to take a Yellowstone journey, the lack of positive COVID-19 Yellowstone tests is surely very reassuring.
Speaking of reopening: June 16-29, 2020 visitation was down only slightly from June 16-29, 2019 visitation. We saw 119,974 vehicles enter Yellowstone on June 16-29, 2020, compared to 134,278 vehicles enter the park on June 16-29, 2019. Most of that drop, interestingly, was due to a 15 percent drop at the three Montana entrances; there was only a very small drop at the two Wyoming entrances.
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