Coronavirus Pandemic Puts Stress on National Park System

Headline Roundup March 27th, 2020

National parks across the U.S. are experiencing intense pressure during the coronavirus pandemic, as millions of Americans seeking to escape virus-stricken urban centers flock into nature. Three of the country's most famous parks -- Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Great Smoky Mountains — shut their gates this week, while many others have appealed for permission to close amid employee and visitor worries regarding exposure to the virus. All parks remain free after the Interior Department suspended entrance fees last week in an effort to make it easier for people to get outdoors.

Outlets on both sides of the aisle covered last week's announcement, while many on the left and center this week focused on the growing concerns about overcrowding.

From the Center

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is sticking with its crowd-friendly waiver of entrance fees at national parks during the coronavirus pandemic, as managers at some parks try and fail to keep visitors a safe distance apart and communities appeal for a shutdown at other parks that are still open.

While the Interior Department agreed this week to requests from local managers of Yellowstone and some other iconic national parks to close, others remained open and newly free of charge. In Arizona, local governments and the Navajo Nation were waiting...

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From the Left

Two days before he cursed a supervisor and quit the National Park Service job he loved, Dustin Stone arrived to work in a foul mood. A decision by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to keep national park sites open despite the coronavirus outbreak left him angry and in disbelief.

The virus hasn’t reached Skagway, a tiny town on the Alaskan panhandle where Stone lives and worked at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. But if it does, he said, it could be a disaster. “I’ve lived here year-round through eight...

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From the Right

Talk about too close for comfort.

The National Park Service (NPS) is urging visitors to practice safe social distancing at parks that remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.

With the COVID-19 outbreak drastically disrupting daily life for millions of Americans, the great outdoors have become a welcome refuge for many. Inspired, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt temporarily suspended all park entrance fees last week to make it easier for people to get outdoors. The decision is effective until further notice.

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