National parks reopen

Yellowstone National Park visitors stop for pictures near the park’s southern boundary on May 18. 

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A third round of surveillance tests for COVID-19 turned up 165 negative results among Yellowstone National Park employees. However, one contractor working on a construction project tested positive, Yellowstone announced Wednesday in a news release. 

This is the third week in a row Yellowstone has conducted COVID-19 surveillance testing and all tests have come back negative. On June 10, Park County, Montana, health workers tested 165 employees from the National Park Service and concession companies in the park. The latest round of testing brings the total number of employee tests completed in the past 17 days to 387.

Meanwhile, the contractor working tested positive. The individual reported symptoms at the jobsite, was isolated, and tested outside the park. The individual does not live in the park. Health officials are conducting contact tracing, but at this point they have not identified any close contacts with park employees or visitors.

This individual was not tested as part of the Yellowstone employee COVID-19 surveillance program. To protect the individual's privacy, the park will not release more details about this case, the release said.

"This is why we have developed response protocols with our health experts and have required COVID-19 mitigation/response plans for all contractors," Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. "The contractor took the appropriate actions by immediately isolating the employee, sending him for testing, and notifying health officials."

Moving forward, the park will continue to test employees — targeting first responders and employees who work directly with the public — in partnership with both Montana and Wyoming, the park said in a news release. 

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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