Coronavirus And The Grand Canyon
Pressure is increasing on the federal government to close Grand Canyon National Park after the popular tourist destination saw its first case of the coronavirus in a hospitality worker.
The man who tested positive for COVID-19 lived at a dorm within the park and worked at one of the lodges run by a park concessionaire, said Glen White, a spokesman for park concessionaire Delaware North. The man has been in isolation for several days.
Members of Congress and city, county and tribal officials have urged the federal government to approve a request from the park to close amid concerns that social distancing can't be maintained.
“We understand that closing an iconic destination like the Grand Canyon is not an easy decision, but we implore you to do everything in your power to prioritize public health and not interfere with locally informed decisions to close parks where appropriate,” members of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources wrote to the Interior Department.
The Grand Canyon encompasses more than 1,900 square miles. Most visitors go to the South Rim where more than 2,000 people live year-round — most of them employees of the National Park Service, park concessionaires and their families.
Several of the country’s most popular national parks have closed, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Arches and Canyonlands.