Yellowstone National Park – Over 1,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed on Yellowstone employees over the past eight weeks, with 2 concession employees and 3 visitors being COVID-19 symptom tests positive. There was no positive situation with front-line employees.
The tests were conducted in partnership with counties in Montana and Wyoming and beyond.
Another 455 trials were recently confirmed to be negative in the fifth (162 trials), sixth (244 trials), and ninth (49 trials) rounds of testing, bringing the total number of negative tests to 1,032. There are currently about 200 trials pending. More information about the surveillance trial effort is available in the park news release dated 30 June [nps.gov] And 4 June [nps.gov].
- Total tests conducted so far: 1,237
- Total tests with negative results: 1,032
- Total tests with positive results: 0
- Total test results pending: 205
Yellowstone employees – Two Yellowstone Concession employees with symptoms recently tested positive for COVID-19. Once positive tests were confirmed, these employees were separated and mitigation steps were taken, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidance. Accordingly, health officials led the contact tracing.
According to a press release, the first employee experienced COVID-19 symptoms while away from the park and was tested outside the park. Once the positive test was confirmed, the employee was isolated. Based on contact tracing by health officials, the employee had limited interactions with visitors or employees. It is possible that this employee contracted the virus while out of the park.
The other employee had symptoms while at the park, was tested at the clinic, and was determined to be positive. The employee was immediately isolated while the contact was traced. Many other employees were left as a precaution. In the week of July 20, surveillance was concentrated in and around the area where the positive employee worked. Park County, Wyoming, with the help of health officials, tested about 40 people and all tests came negative. As a precaution, around 10 additional health officials and first responders were also tested with negative results.
The park is closely monitoring new cases with its business and county health partners. No further notice will be issued to protect the privacy of each employee. These are the first positive tests of nearly 2,000 concessionaires and National Park Service employees who have worked in the park in the last two months.
Visitors – Three different visitors have tested positive recently after being in the park. These visitors sought medical help at Yellowstone clinics, were tested and tested positive. One visitor spent one night in the park and the other did not stay overnight. It is highly likely that these visitors had the virus before entering the park. The third visitor was tested outside the park after traveling for a week. It has not been determined whether the visitor was in the park or the virus was contracted before entering.
These are the first visitors out of an estimated 1.4 million visits since the park opened, having symptoms during their stay in the park and tested positive after seeking medical attention. “At this point, there have been a limited number of cases in various locations around the park,” said George Larsen, US Public Health Officer. “Currently, there is no sign of any type of community spreading across the park, although we are monitoring it very closely.”
“Some of these visitor cases were symptoms before entering the park,” Superintendent Cam Sholey said. “If you have symptoms such as your journey coming to a close, talk responsibly and don’t come to the park. You put 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 helping us with testing capacity and additional public health expertise. “
The park has participated in four rounds of wastewater testing with several counties around in Wyoming and Montana. The information collected allows the park to monitor the level of COVID-19 in wastewater in the most popular developed areas of the park.
The park’s first two wastewater samples detected zero presence of COVID-19 in May and early June. Samples taken in late June in the two most populous areas indicated a low-level detection of the virus within 10%, the lowest measured in more than 400 jurisdictions across the United States participating in this type of trial. gave. The most recent sample taken in mid-July indicated broader levels than the samples taken in late June. Waste testing is a new technique for COVID-19 and the interpretation of results is not well understood. At this time the park hopes that the results will be useful to identify trends.
Going forward, the park, in partnership with the Wyoming Department of Health, will regularly take and test wastewater samples for one year to protect public health.