NPS Public Health Update

The National Park Service (NPS) strives to ensure the safety of its visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners. When the NPS is responding to an ongoing public health incident, this page will provide timely updates about NPS response activities and links to specific information about parks that may be involved.

The NPS coordinates closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health authorities, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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a CDC graphic illustrating the coronavirus

Image: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first detected in China and has expanded internationally, including in the United States.

The NPS Office of Public Health, Office of Risk Management, and the Division of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services, in conjunction with the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Occupational Safety and Health and Office of Emergency Management (OEM), are responsible for managing and supporting activities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, and respond to such hazards. Over the last couple of weeks, they have been actively engaged and coordinating efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • The NPS taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from state and local public health authorities, which support the CDC's efforts to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. The NPS is modifying operations, until further notice, for facilities and programs that cannot adhere to this guidance. Where it is possible to adhere to this guidance, outdoor spaces will remain open to the public and entrance-fee free. See more below.
  • The NPS Office of Public Health and the US Public Health Service officers assigned to the NPS are closely monitoring the situation and keeping staff informed, relying on the most updated data and information from the CDC, Office of Personnel Management (OPM), OEM, and state and local public health authorities.
  • The NPS is focused on ensuring employees, their families, volunteers, and visitors are safe by following the most current guidance from the CDC, OPM, OEM, and other federal, state, and local public health authorities.

Public Health Preparation and Response

Visitor services, other than those of public and resource protection (such as law enforcement and trash removal), will be limited or suspended. The NPS urges visitors to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.

When contemplating a visit to a national park, the NPS asks people to act responsibly with regards to CDC and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Slowing the spread of novel coronavirus is everyone's responsibility.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra precautions and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Following CDC guidance, NPS Public Health Service officers recommend that everyone should take the following routine precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Wash with soap and water to destroy the virus. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • While an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol can be used, it’s best to reserve those resources for work locations where soap and water are not readily available.
    • If your hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be used rather than hand sanitizer.
  • As always, it is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Regular household cleaners will destroy the virus.
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Most importantly, stay home when you are sick in order to avoid exposing others.

Changes in Park and Facility Operations

Read a statement on NPS modifications to operations. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.

Digital Resources

Ranger holding up props in front of a computer and camera

Find Your Virtual Park

Stay connected with national parks across the country with online resources and virtual experiences.

Image of a safety infographic about social distancing

Safety and Social Distancing Graphics

Find infographics to use for promoting best practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in parks.

Law Enforcement Ranger wearing a helmet

National Public Health Week

During the 25th anniversary of National Public Health Week from April 6 to 12, learn about health and safety and their benefits in parks.

News Releases

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    Tags: COVID-19

    Other Federal Resources and Information

    This is the primary portal for public information maintained by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force at the White House, working in conjunction with CDC, HHS and other agency stakeholders.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the Department of Health and Human Services is the lead federal agency with responsibility for public health.

    What the U.S. Government Is Doing

    GSA has created a landing page on (Español) for government-wide information related to COVID-19 activities.

    Last updated: April 3, 2020