Zion National Park ranks as one of the national parks that receives a large number of international visitors each year. As the world watches the current outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) many wonder if it’s still safe to visit the national parks and if the National Parks are taking precautions to help guar against visitors who might be infected with the virus.
Acting Chief Spokesperson for the National Parks, Alexandra Picavet, stated in an interview on Tuesday, “While there have been no identified cases of the Coronavirus in any national park, the NPS Office of Public Health and the U.S. Public Health Service officers assigned to the National Park Service are closely monitoring the situation and keeping staff informed, relying on the most updated data and information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”
“Parks are informed to follow CDC guidance regarding Preventative actions to help prevent the spread of viruses, particularly during flu and respiratory disease season.”
What does the CDC Recommend?
The Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been involved in helping global efforts to prevent the spread of the virus and in preventing a major outbreak. While the organization has focused its efforts globally, they continue to work closely with states to help inform and remind the public as to what they can do to help prevent spreading the virus.
The CDC believes that the immediate risk of the Coronavirus is low to the American public, as stated on their website. While they believe the risk is low, they are urging everyone to do their part to help them as we respond to this growing global health threat.
The CDC recommends the following:
- While we are in the current flue and respiratory disease season, the CDC recommends that all who are able to be vaccinated should be vaccinated with the flu vaccine. Along with the vaccination, they encourage the public to take everyday preventative measures to help stop the spread of germs, and if prescribed by your healthcare provider, take any flu antivirals needed.
- Don’t stop using safe hygiene habits which include, washing your hands regularly, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose without clean hands.
While these recommendations may seem small, they can help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
What Symptoms are Associated with the Coronavirus?
While the severity of symptoms vary from patient to patient, the following symptoms have been seen in most of the confirmed cases around the globe:
- High Fever
- Shortness of Breath
What Can I Do if I am Sick?
If you find yourself sick, regardless of it you’ve contracted the coronavirus or not, the following preventative steps and measures, when followed, can help prevent spreading your illness to those with whom you associate yourself with at home, work or in whatever area you might be visiting.
Stay Home; Except to get Medical Attention
If you are sick, it is advised that you restrict activities outside of your residence. The only exception to the case should be leaving to seek medical attention. Do not go to work. Do not go out in public areas. Avoid using public transportation systems (Zion Park Shuttle Service), ride-shares or taxis.
Isolate Yourself from Others within your Home; Including Pets
When you are sick, the CDC advises that your interactions with those who live with you should be avoided as much as possible. Where possible, sleep in a separate area and use a different bathroom from those in your home.
Just like you are asked to isolate yourself from your family members, it is advised that you restrict contact with pets and other animals when sick. If you have to be around animals, be sure to wash your hands before and after any interaction, and where possible, be sure to wear a facemask.
Wear a Facemask when around Others
While using a facemask is not on the top of anyone’s bucket-list, facemasks should be worn by those who are sick when they are around others to help prevent spread of disease. Wear a facemask when sharing a room or vehicle with others. If for whatever reason you are not able to use a facemask (if it causes more issues with breathing) those who are staying with you should not be in the same room or where possible, wear a facemask themselves when occupying the same areas.
Cover up your Coughs and Sneezes
While it seems like common sense, covering up whenever you sneeze or cough is a huge help when trying to prevent the spread of an illness. Who knew our mothers were right when they suggested that while growing up? Instead of using your hand or sleeve, consider using a tissue. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Once you are finished, be sure to dispose of the tissue in a trash can that is lined with a liner or bag. After disposing of the tissue, wash your hands immediately, with soap, for at least 20 seconds. If a hand washing station is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60-95% alcohol.
Wash those Hands!
As often as possible, wash your hands! It is still the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease. We often forget everything that we touch within the span of a day (phones, laptops, hand rails, doors, etc.) and end up touching our faces with dirty hands. If you find yourself out in the park, away from any of the restroom stops, be sure to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with an alcohol level of 60-95%. Make sure you cover the entire surface of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
While these steps seem basic, they can really make a difference in ensuring that your visit to the National Parks, especially Zion, is one to remember. Just like you’d pack to have a safe hike, remember to pack good personal hygiene habits to help you and those around you stay healthy this flu and respiratory disease season.