July 29, 2020 445 PM
BIG BEND — A newly confirmed case of coronavirus at Big Bend National Park has halted plans to reopen, according to an official familiar with the decision.
This is the second confirmed case of the virus within the park community since the beginning of the month. Park officials first closed the Far West Texas destination in April as a precautionary measure. It was reopened for nearly a month before closing again at the beginning of July when a park resident tested positive for COVID-19.
The case of COVID-19 at Big Bend National Park confirmed this week is a staff member who is currently isolating themselves. The staff member had spent time in several buildings within the park—those have since been sanitized or were already closed, according to a source familiar with the park’s plans for mitigating the further spread of the coronavirus.
Through contact tracing, park officials have learned there are five additional employees who have been exposed. None are exhibiting symptoms, but are quarantining as a precaution.
The park was originally set to reopen this week since the resident who first tested positive at the beginning of the month has recovered and is no longer contagious. However, with the new case, it’s unclear how much longer the park will remain closed.
It’s likely that when the park eventually reopens it will be in a limited capacity. Previously, park officials drafted a staged reopening plan—the lowest levels would only allow visitors during the day-time.