The U.S. National Park Service said it is “taking extraordinary steps” that include taking guidance from state and local public health authorities to protect public safety.
The details are laid out in the “NPS Public Health Update” web page that can be found at https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/news/public-health-update.htm.
In the interest of our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers’ (and anyone they might come in contact with) health, I’m posting the information below.
The NPS Office of Public Health, Office of Risk Management, and the Division of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services, in conjunction with the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Occupational Safety and Health and Office of Emergency Management (OEM), are responsible for managing and supporting activities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, and respond to such hazards. Over the last couple of weeks, they have been actively engaged and coordinating efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- The NPS taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from state and local public health authorities, which support the CDC’s efforts to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. The NPS is modifying operations, until further notice, for facilities and programs that cannot adhere to this guidance. Where it is possible to adhere to this guidance, outdoor spaces will remain open to the public and entrance-fee free. See more below.
- 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, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), OEM, and state and local public health authorities.
- The NPS is focused on ensuring employees, their families, volunteers, and visitors are safe by following the most current guidance from the CDC, OPM, OEM, and other federal, state, and local public health authorities.
Public Health Preparation and Response
Visitor services, other than those of public and resource protection (such as law enforcement and trash removal), will be limited or suspended. The NPS urges visitors to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.
When contemplating a visit to a national park, the NPS asks people to act responsibly with regards to CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Slowing the spread of novel coronavirus is everyone’s responsibility.
For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra precautions and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.
Following CDC guidance, NPS Public Health Service officers recommend that everyone should take the following routine precautions:
- 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.
Changes in Park and Facility Operations
Read a statement on NPS modifications to operations. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.
Opportunities to Find Your Park Virtually
You don’t have to be in a national park to experience a national park! NPS parks and programs are sharing virtual content on their websites and social media. There are countless ways to #FindYourPark from home, here are just a few:
- Check out the watching wildlife and National Mall cherry blossom webcams
- Take daily virtual tours of the USS Constitution, anchored at Boston National Historical Park
- Explore the StoryMap to discover the important places associated with the ratification of the 19th Amendment
- Play a game of virtual BINGO in a tour of Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
- Enjoy some tips from Junior Rangers at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
- Take a virtual tour of Yellowstone National Park
- Watch the “Outside Science / Inside Parks” video series, part citizen science, part education