Grand Canyon National Park closes after employee tested positive for coronavirus

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The Grand Canyon closed Wednesday after local health officials raised concerns about its continued operations at a time when venues are closed and pressure mounts for national parks to halt operations to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Park Service said it closed the tourist hotspot until further notice after receiving a letter from officials in Coconino County, Ariz.

"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,"  Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement.

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The National Parks Service said it has assessed its park units and made modifications in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state and local health guidance.

"The health and safety of park visitors, employees, residents, volunteers, and partners at Grand Canyon National Park is the Service's number one priority," the NPS said.

Messages to the National Park Service were not immediately returned.

The move comes after a Grand Canyon park employee tested positive for the virus and was then been put in isolation, Grand Canyon Acting Superintendent Mary Risser said in a message relayed by the Tusayan Fire Department.

In this March 27, 2020 photo, Shelly Clayton, center, walks up the Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., with her children Audrey Kuhar, 11, left, and Cooper Kuhar, 11. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

In this March 27, 2020 photo, Shelly Clayton, center, walks up the Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., with her children Audrey Kuhar, 11, left, and Cooper Kuhar, 11. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

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Several national parks and monuments have closed as some visitors flout social distancing guidelines. Three of the most popular parks -- Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Great Smoky Mountains – were forced to close the gates.

Fox News' Alexandra Deabler contributed to this report.