Grand Canyon issues new mask mandate
Grand Canyon says masks are to be worn in designated outdoor zones
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — On Aug. 18, National Park Service (NPS) announced updated mask guidance which requires masks to be worn in designated outdoor zones to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
At the Aug. 18 community stakeholder meeting, Grand Canyon Deputy Superintendent Brian Drapeaux said that because of the crowded nature of the areas and the inability to socially distance, masks must be worn regardless of vaccination status or community transmission status.
“New national park guidance requires masking in these areas, regardless of community transmission,” Drapeaux said. “That’s because transmission levels across the country are high and we have people coming in from many locations in the country and around the world.”
Many popular areas in the park such as Hopi Point, Bright Angel Point, Grand Canyon Visitor Center Plaza and various highly-trafficked trailheads and parking lots will require masks to be worn.
Additionally, Drapeaux issued a reminder that masks are required in all NPS buildings and public transportation.
“As much as we all want the pandemic to be over, we know that it isn’t,” Drapeaux said. “Park leaders have been saying for months that we must be vigilant, please join in our efforts to practice COVID protocols.”
Nearly 70 percent of Grand Canyon fully vaccinated
As of Aug. 13, 68.6 percent of Grand Canyon’s population aged 10 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to Coconino County data.
Since 2020, vaccine drives coordinated by North Country HealthCare, Coconino County Health and Human Services, Tusayan Fire District (TFD) and other local entities have helped residents access vaccines.
The last vaccination event took place on Aug. 12 in Grand Canyon Village and Tusayan.
TFD Chief Greg Brush said that as of Aug. 12, 271 vaccinations have been given in Tusayan alone, which is close to the entire population of 297.
Over the past three weeks, there has been a spike in new COVID-19 cases in the Grand Canyon area, as numbers jumped from 205 to 223.
According to Grand Canyon Clinic data, 90 percent of new cases are among the unvaccinated.
In Coconino County, transmission rates remain high at the moment, at 201.4 per 100,000 people.
So far, 53 percent of the eligible population in Coconino County have been fully vaccinated.
Grand Canyon Clinic offering testing, vaccinations
In Grand Canyon, vaccines are available at Grand Canyon Clinic every other Thursday, and are subject to increase or decrease based on demand.
Saliva testing is available Monday- Wednesday, before 11 a.m. at no cost.
Nasal swab testing is available seven days per week, with results generally available within 48 hours for samples collected before 2 p.m.
Pre-registration is recommended by calling the clinic or by accessing the North Country HealthCare portal.
More information about vaccines and testing is available from Grand Canyon Clinic at (928) 638-2551.