Yosemite National Park’s Sewage Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA
Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA / Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA

Yosemite National Park has taken numerous safety precautions since it began its phased reopening earlier this summer. Capacity is limited, social distancing is enforced, and some facilities have remained closed altogether. But these measures haven't been enough to keep the virus out of the California park. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the novel coronavirus has been detected in Yosemite's sewage.

In the beginning, the pandemic appeared to spare Yosemite even as it intensified across the rest of the state. A recent look at Yosemite's untreated wastewater tells a different story. When Biobot Analytics, a lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, analyzed raw sewage samples from the park, they found evidence of the coronavirus's presence there. The amount of the virus they tallied indicates that it may have spread to up to 170 people in the area.

Health officials for Yosemite's county say the arrival of the virus is likely related to the high number of tourists passing through the site. Because safety restrictions have already been implemented, park operations are expected to stay the same.

COVID-19 primarily spreads through the air, but it's capable of spreading through feces as well. The virus is can live in fecal matter, which means when someone flushes their infected excrement down the toilet, they're stirring up a cloud of viral particles that may reach up to 3 feet into the air. That's a good reason to be wary of public restrooms on your next socially-distanced getaway.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]