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NPS announces new mask guidelines in Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Clinic still offering vaccines to residents

Grand Canyon National Park is no longer requiring masks be worn in some buildings or outdoor spaces. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

Grand Canyon National Park is no longer requiring masks be worn in some buildings or outdoor spaces. (Loretta McKenney/WGCN)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — On May 19, the National Park Service (NPS) released new mask guidelines for Grand Canyon — wearing a mask is no longer a requirement in many buildings or outdoor spaces in and around the park.

The guidelines were released to follow new information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that fully-vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, which includes local businesses and workplace guidance.

“We are taking a stance that we should not enforce mask requirements that were in place prior to updated (CDC) guidance for people who are fully vaccinated, and we should assume that those who are not wearing masks are vaccinated,” said Louis Rowe, Grand Canyon deputy superintendent.

Rowe also said the NPS does not have the authority to inquire about an individual’s personal medical information, and will not approach visitors or employees regarding their vaccination status. However, the park is advising that its employees “keep a mask handy if needed,” in consideration of guests, particularly high-risk individuals.

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Visitors hike Grand Canyon National Park trails wearing masks earlier this year. On May 19, the National Park Service released new guidance stating masks were not required in most outdoor areas and buildings. (Photo/NPS)

Additionally, the park stated that all people, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask on all forms of public transportation and in healthcare settings on Department of the Interior (DOI) lands, which applies to the Grand Canyon shuttle bus system.

Rowe said the current guidance is subject to change as guidance is clarified, and the NPS will announce changes.

Vaccination rates climb locally, NPS encourages residents to get vaccinated

As of May 12, the Grand Canyon Clinic has administered 2,089 total doses of vaccine to residents of the Grand Canyon, Tusayan, and Valle communities with 1,019 individuals having received both doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Additionally, the Tusayan Fire District and partners, Coconino County Health and Human Services and North Country HealthCare, have administered an estimated 80 first doses of the Moderna vaccine.

The combined population of the three communities totals 2,790, meaning that over half of residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 40 percent have been fully vaccinated.

Tusayan Fire District had its first drive-up vaccine event on April 28 at the IMAX Theater in Tusayan, and will have a follow-up event to administer second doses May 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m..

The follow-up event will also offer a single-dose vaccine to individuals age 18 and over.

Registration is required for the event, and those who wish to schedule a vaccine may call (928) 522-1222.

The event will also feature a Spanish translator to assist residents who speak English as a second language.

Additionally, Grand Canyon Clinic will continue to provide the Moderna vaccine to residents one to two days per week, based on demand.

To schedule a vaccine appointment at Grand Canyon Clinic, call (928) 638-2551.

“The updated guidance, which allows you to go maskless, is a great incentive to do so,” Rowe said. “As a reminder, if you haven’t gotten your vaccine because you are still on the fence about the efficacy or the efficiency of (the vaccine), please consult your personal physician, and make those choices that are right for you and your family.”

Rowe also mentioned that the CDC has provided information to help individuals decide which vaccine is the most appropriate.

Navajo Nation continues to require masks

Although the National Park Service has relaxed its mask requirements, the Navajo Nation still requires masks to be worn in public, and remains under a Stay-at-Home order, which includes daily curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has said the Nation will consider reopening once 75 percent of Navajo Nation residents are vaccinated.

So far, the Navajo Nation continues to lead the U.S. in vaccination rates, with 60 percent of its population having been fully vaccinated.

As of May 21, Coconino County daily case reporting data will transition to weekly reports.

The reports will be published every Friday, and are available at https://www.coconino.az.gov/2598/Vaccine-Data-Dashboard

The CDC information on vaccines is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines

For specific guidance for the Navajo Nation, visit https://www.navajo-nsn.gov.

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