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Yellowstone reports zero positive COVID-19 tests in first round of employee testing

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avatar Yellowstone reports zero positive COVID-19 tests in first round of employee testing
June 04, 2020 04:45PM
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY - In partnership with the State of Montana and Park County, Montana, health officers, Yellowstone National Park tested 43 non-symptomatic employees for COVID-19 on May 28 and 29. All test results came back negative. These employees are in front-line positions and have been interacting with the public over the past two weeks, since the park opened the Wyoming entrances on May 18.

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

Surveillance testing creates two important opportunities: 1) the detection of COVID-19 carriers who aren’t showing symptoms yet, and 2) 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.

“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.”

“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.
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