This Once "Safe" Destination Is Now Having a COVID Outbreak
New coronavirus cases are being confirmed here after weeks of no cases.
Currently, the United States has more than 4.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with each state reporting at least 1,000 cases. So by now, it's clear the virus has spread its way into almost every crevice of the country—even in places that were originally thought of as innocuous. In fact, one "safe" destination reopened in May thinking it could remain untouched, but is now having a COVID outbreak: Yellowstone National Park.
"At this point, a limited number of cases have appeared in different locations around the park," U.S. Public Health Officer George Larsen said in a statement. "Currently, there is no indication of any type of community spread in the park although we are monitoring it very closely."
Two concession employees and three recent visitors to the park have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Casper Star Tribune reported on July 28. According to the National Park Service's press release, the first employee to test positive experienced their coronavirus symptoms while outside of the park, and was tested outside of the park. Once confirmed to be positive, the employee was isolated and park officials say it is "likely this employee contracted the virus while out of the park."
However, the other employee reportedly experienced symptoms while inside the park and was tested at an in-park clinic. Once they tested positive, the employee was immediately isolated and contact tracing took place. According to park officials, "several other employees were quarantined as a precaution." Health officials tested nearly 40 people who were in the area where the infected employee worked, but they all tested negative.
"These are the first positive tests out of the nearly 2,000 concession and National Park Service employees who work in the park over the past two months," park officials reported. The park reopened on May 18 after being closed since March 24 because of the pandemic.
But employees weren't the only ones to test positive. Three separate visitors tested positive at Yellowstone clinics after visiting the park. One spent a week in the park, another stayed overnight, and one visited for just a day. Park officials say they believe that it is "highly likely" at least two of the visitors (the one who did not stay overnight and the one that only stayed one night) "had the virus prior to entering the park." As for the week-long visitor, it "has not been determined if the virus was contracted while the visitor was in the park or prior to entering."
According to Yellowstone National Park officials, these are the first visitors to test positive out of nearly 1.4 million who have visited since the park reopened.
"Some of these visitor cases had symptoms prior to entering the park," Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. "If you have symptoms as your visit is approaching, do the responsible thing and don't come to the park. You end up putting our employees, health care providers, and other visitors at risk. Our thanks once again to the states of Wyoming and Montana (Park County, Wyoming, and Park County, Montana), for assisting us with testing capacity and additional public health expertise." And for places where coronavirus numbers are improving, Dr. Fauci Says These 4 States' COVID Cases Are "Coming Back Down."