Yellowstone still COVID-free, backcountry opens June 15

JACKSON, Wyo. — For the second week in a row after conducting COVID-19 surveillance testing on Yellowstone employees, all tests came back negative.

On June 4-5, health officials from Park County, Montana, tested 179 employees from the National Park Service and concession companies operating in the park. This brings the total number of employees tested in the past 10 days to 222. Moving forward the park will continue to test employees in partnership with both Montana and Wyoming.

“I want to thank the states of Wyoming and Montana and our county health officials for partnering with us to increase surveillance testing capacity,” said superintendent Cam Sholly. “This proactive testing is the only way for us to detect cases early and respond quickly to any employees who have the virus.”

As introduced in the park’s reopening plan, 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 May 18-26. Lab results indicated 0% prevalence of COVID-19 in those systems during those time frames. Additional samples will be taken on June 13 and 15, which will give the park a better idea of COVID-19 increases due to reopening.

Backcountry camping begins June 15 

The park will begin issuing backcountry permits on June 15, 2020. All backcountry permits will be issued via email or phone through the Central Backcountry Office. The park maintains a Backcountry Situation Report for information about trail conditions, openings, and closings.

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