For the second consecutive week, Yellowstone National Park employees tested negative for COVID-19, according to a news release.

Health officials from Park County, Mont., tested 179 employees of the National Park Service and concession companies operating in the park, bringing the total number of employees tested to 222.

Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said proactive testing is the only way to detect cases early and respond quickly to any infected employees.

The surveillance testing by Wyoming and Montana health departments will continue throughout the summer as part of the National Park Service's reopening plan. It will focus on first responders and those who work directly with the public.

Besides testing employees, the park sampled wastewater systems in Gardiner, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful from May 18 to 26. Lab results indicated 0% prevalence of COVID-19 in those systems. Additional samples will be taken on June 13 and 15, which will give the park a better idea of COVID-19 increases due to reopening.

The park also said in the news release that visitation measured by vehicle counts from June 1-10 was 42,075, or 54% of the 78,190 vehicles from the same time in 2019.

As part of the reopening, Yellowstone will begin issuing backcountry permits on Monday by email of phone through the Central Backcountry Office. The park maintains a Backcountry Situation Report for information about trail conditions, openings, and closings.

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