The National Park Service says it has closed Grand Canyon National Park to all visitors effective immediately because of the increasing spread of coronavirus.
It follows a letter sent Wednesday by the director of Coconino County Health and Human Services as well as the county’s chief health officer urging the park’s closure to protect employees and the approximately 2,500 residents of the area.
Acting Grand Canyon Superintendent Mary Risser made the decision to immediately close the park with the support of Park Service officials and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
"The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will continue to follow the guidance of state and local health officials in making determinations about our operations," Secretary Bernhardt said in a press release. "As soon as we received the letter from the Health and Human Services Director and Chief Health Officer for Coconino County recommending the closure of Grand Canyon National Park, we closed the park."
Grand Canyon officials had shut down nearly all visitor services along with several popular trails in recent weeks.
The full closure announcement follows growing calls from residents and officials to shutter the park. Several members of Congress this week sent a letter to Bernhardt urging a closure, and the Coconino County Board of Supervisors had also requested suspending visitation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition, the first known case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Grand Canyon Village. The person is an employee of concessioner Delaware North and is in self-isolation at a separate location.