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With growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak, and many park enthusiasts wondering if they should cancel their upcoming trips, the National Park Service has released a statement addressing visitor concerns.
National Park Service sites are open and operating normally at this point, but the Park Service is prepared to enact closures if the need arises.
“The NPS Office of Public Health and the US Public Health Service officers assigned to the NPS are closely monitoring the situation and keeping staff informed, relying on the most updated data and information from the CDC, OPM, OEM, and state and local public health authorities,” it reads, confirming that the multifaceted nature of National Parks requires both national and local health department coordination. The statement also points to an Interior Department Pandemic Influenza Plan that is being reviewed, and should the need arise, it will be updated accordingly for this situation.
“Visitors can be assured that facilities in national parks, including lodges and restaurants, continue to monitor conditions and maintain high standards related to the health and wellness of staff and visitors. Park and concession staff are working to maintain clean and healthy facilities in parks in accordance with CDC guidance,” the statement continued, before recommending the following routine precautions for visitors and staff:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Wash with soap and water to destroy the virus. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- While an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol can be used, it’s best to reserve those resources for work locations where soap and water are not readily available.
- If your hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be used rather than hand sanitizer.
- As always, it is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Regular household cleaners will destroy the virus.
- The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Most importantly, stay home when you are sick in order to avoid exposing others.