Officials at the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia will temporarily close the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, its primary visitor contact facility, as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.
The measure was taken in response to the latest state, local, and federal guidance promoting social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.
Outdoor facilities elsewhere in the park—including hiking trails, campgrounds, and river access points—will remain open, according to superintendent Lizzie Watts.
“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority,” Watts said.
“While the park remains open for hiking, biking, and other recreational activities, Canyon Rim Visitor Center, which regularly hosts up to 1,000 visitors per day during March and early April, will remain closed until further notice.”
Park officials are urging visitors to do their part when visiting the park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Park visitors are being asked to maintain safe distances, wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid contact with eyes, nose, and mouth, covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and most importantly, staying home if sick.
For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, park staff is encouraging extra caution and adherence to CDC guidance, especially for those who are at higher risk of serious illness.
“We will be monitoring the national and statewide situation as we continue to asses and modify our operations according to CDC guidance,” Watts said.
“Information about current operations, programs, facilities, and closures can always be found on our park website at nps.gov/neri.”
The park will also be sending out notifications on their social media platforms, noted Watts. Updates on national park areas nationwide will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.