Despite a surprising number of visitors to the park in July, another round of testing yielded no new Yellowstone COVID-19 cases as of mid-July.
All in all Yellowstone National Park has conducted nearly 1,400 asymptomatic employee surveillance tests since early June, including 346 tests in the past three weeks, on front-line employees in partnership with the states of Montana and Wyoming and surrounding counties. All test results have been negative to date, although two Yellowstone concessionaire employees did test positive earlier.
Of the 1,499 total tests conducted to date, 1,378 returned negative results, with 121 test results still pending.
In a previous round of testing, two Yellowstone concessionaire employees did test positive, but subsequently tested negative. Since then no positive tests have been recorded.
In addition, no visitors have tested positive in the last four weeks in any of Yellowstone’s medical clinics.
The negative testing comes at a time when Yellowstone visitation is surprisingly robust. In fact, July 2020 Yellowstone visitation was up 2 percent over July 2019, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has severely limited both national and international leisure travel.
All in all, there were 955,645 recreation visits to Yellowstone National Park in July 2020. That’s a pretty impressive figure, considering there is limited resort availability, no visitor centers open and no sit-down dining. Similarly, Grand Teton National Park hosted an estimated 755,762 recreation visits in July 2020–just a 3 percent decrease compared to July 2019. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic impacting foreign travel, Grand Teton officials say July 2020 has the fourth highest number of recreation visits on record for the month of July.
The yearly numbers tell a slightly different story: So far in 2020, the park has hosted 1,664,830 recreation visits, down 27.5 percent from the same period last year. This is where you can measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as there was limited or no access to the park at the beginning of the traditional summer season. Two Wyoming entrances opened on May 18 and three Montana entrances opened on June 1, 2020. All five entrances have been open since June 1.
Photo of the North Entrance on June 26 by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service.
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