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1 in 3 Americans planning summer road trip, many eyeing National Parks

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — National Parks are beginning to reopen as Americans plan for pandemic road trips this summer. According to a recent survey posted in “Market Watch,” about 1 in 3 Americans are still planning a summer road trip. About 25% of those individuals have their eyes set on a national park.

Road trip risks?

Health experts say that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are some guidelines to follow. First, they say wear a mask, even if the location doesn’t require it. That’s more for the safety of others rather than yourself.

“When people see others not wearing masks in their local towns, they get really upset,” said Schelly Olson, the lead public information officer for Grand County’s COVID-19 response team. “Please, just do it for everyone’s safety and peace of mind.”

Olson said the last thing they can afford is an influx of visitors that spread the virus in their remote community. Grand County only has five ventilators and a total of 19 hospital beds. Additionally, they do not have an intensive care unit. As of June 18, the county had 18 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Additionally, in an effort to not overrun local supplies, attempt to bring your own food and snacks.

Olson said over Memorial Day weekend, their county was packed with visitors and grocery stores were completely emptied out. 

Parks prepare

Rob Wallace, the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says they’re ready to navigate the uptick in visitors. He says it helps that they already had to implement emergency safety guidelines months ago. 

“In one like 10 day period, the advice on crowds went from 250 down to 50 down to 10,” he explains.

He says increased signage, protective Plexiglas shields and staggered services are just a few of their current safety measures.

Tourism tanks

In Utah, coronavirus restrictions continue to negatively impact the tourism industry. According to Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, in years past they would typically bring in around $26 million a day. Fast forward to the peak of shutdowns due to the coronavirus, and that number is plummeting to between $2 to $4 million a day.

Coronavirus cases in Utah continue to surge as of late. The state broke the record for the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases on Friday, then broke it again on Saturday.