Yellowstone reports 0 positive COVID tests amongst employees

JACKSON, Wyo. — A first round of scheduled routine testing of employees in Yellowstone National Park found an encouraging zero positive results.

In partnership with the State of Montana and Park County, Montana, health officers, Yellowstone tested 43 non-symptomatic employees for COVID-19 on May 28 and 29. All test results came back negative. The employees tested are in frontline positions and have been interacting with the public over the past two weeks since the park opened Wyoming entrances on May 18.

“This is the most aggressive employee surveillance testing being conducted in the National Park System,” said superintendent Cam Sholly. “We couldn’t do this without our partners in the states and counties. Our goal is to detect positive COVID-19 cases as early as possible, so we can isolate and support those employees, while reducing chances of spreading the virus. Information gained from this program will inform management decisions.”

As introduced in the park’s reopening plan, surveillance testing will continue throughout the summer and target National Park Service and concessions employees who are first responders or work directly with the public.

Surveillance testing creates two important opportunities:

  • the detection of COVID-19 carriers who aren’t showing symptoms yet.
  • the ability to quickly isolate those individuals to protect public health.

Approximately 100 tests are being conducted in Yellowstone National Park this week. The park will provide periodic updates on the surveillance program.

“I am grateful that the leadership of Yellowstone has chosen to take the proactive step of conducting active surveillance for asymptotic cases of COVID-19 in the employee population,” said U.S. Public Health Officer George Larsen (assigned to national parks in Montana and Wyoming). “Testing and isolation of those who are infected but not symptomatic has great potential to be protective of public health. The local county health officers have been so supportive, and we look forward to further refining this program with them.”

The park has also received substantial assistance from the State of Wyoming and Park County, Wyoming, to expand surveillance testing and symptomatic testing.

Visitation for Wyoming Entrances (May 18-31) 

Vehicle traffic from May 18-31 during the park’s limited reopening of the Wyoming entrances (East and South) was 70% of the traffic for the same dates for those entrances in 2019.

When compared to the same timeframe in 2019 with all five entrances open, the visitation in the park between May 18-31 this year was 20% of the visitation for the same dates last year.

Visitation for Montana Entrances (June 1-3) 

Vehicle traffic entering the Montana entrances (North, West, and Northeast) on June 1-3 was 45% of the same days in 2019.

The park recorded 7,186 vehicles through the Montana entrances June 1-3, 2020 versus 15,934 vehicles on June 1-3, 2019.

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