GCPBA RiverNews 6/7/2020 – River Precautions When River Trips Resume

The Colorado River through Grand Canyon will be open starting June 14th.  We will be able to use our Noncommercial River Permits. We have been in contact with the Grand Canyon River Permits Office for what river trip participants need to be aware of when river trips resume.  Below is what we received.

First, for those of you who are concerned about the Covid-19 situation and are thinking this is NOT a good time for your group to go down the river, we understand and will support your decision. If you would rather cancel, please send an email to us at grca_riv@nps.gov right away and ask to cancel -- we will defer your trip to the same launch date in calendar year 2022 and transfer your payments as well.

For those who wish to go on their permit as planned, the following are a few important things to know during this time period:

COVID-19 Risks: By visiting Grand Canyon, you are voluntarily assuming all COVID-19 exposure risks inherent in visiting any popular place. COVID-19 is extremely contagious and can lead to severe illness and death, and infection rates in Arizona are currently high. Grand Canyon is very popular, a place where social distancing at Launch Ramps, at Attraction Sites, and at Takeout can be impossible. Please plan carefully to ensure your own safety.

Lees Ferry: To help all participants and Rangers stay healthy, the Lees Ferry Ranger requests that all trip participants at Lees Ferry maintain social distancing especially with other groups and wear masks (e.g. a simple buff, CV cloth face covering or mask) to orientation. To help expedite the checkout process, trips are encouraged to lay out the required equipment, including life jackets, in an organized fashion.

Diamond Creek Closure: At the time of this writing, the Hualapai Tribe has closed Diamond Creek and stopped access to Diamond Creek Road due to COVID-19 concerns and infection rates on their land. This means no take-outs, exchanges, or resupplies can take place at Diamond Creek. If you had Diamond Creek listed as your take-out, please modify it to show your take-out will be at Pearce Ferry. Private permits typically take 3 extra days to get from Diamond Creek to Pearce Ferry.

Social Distancing on the River: Please remember that social distancing between different river trips or with hikers is especially important. This means as much as possible not sharing river camps with other groups, having participants bring face masks to popular attraction sites and wear them if other groups are present, considering skipping some attraction sites if crowded, avoid stopping / mingling at Phantom Ranch, and making it a point of staying distant from other groups even at take-out.

Meals: Limit the spread of germs by reducing the number of hands that touch the serving utensils. Rather than self-serve lunch buffets, consider having 1 or 2 people do all the serving.

Public Health Department Advisory: Please see below from the Public Health Department.

National Park Service Office of Public Health
Recommended Minimum Standards for River Trips

Screening Family and Friends
Individuals (guests and employees) should be screened starting three days before your trip and continuing every morning through the duration of your trip:

Have you had any of the following symptoms:
• Fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher) or chills?
• Cough that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
• Sore throat that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
• Muscle aches that you cannot attribute to another health condition, or that may have been caused by a specific activity

If any Family or Friends answers yes to any of the screening questions, an emergency protocol for COVID-19 should be initiated. The screener should immediately inform the individual that it is not a good idea to go on the trip. If the screening produces a “yes” answer to the above on the day of the trip:
1. Remove the individual from the trip common areas and isolate them 6 feet away from others.
2. Implement the use of masks and gloves by the individual and others until a status can be determined with a medical test.
3. Have the individual examined and tested by a medical professional. Self-shuttle is the best option to reduce more people being exposed.

If an Individual tests positive, the following precautions should be taken:
1. Notify NPS Public Health Consultant 928-638-7355.
2. Coordinate with local officials to conduct contact tracing, especially among other people, such as shuttle drivers and local shops.
3. In consultation with public health consultants and medical professionals, consider a quarantine of the other trip participants who have been in close contact with the positive individual.

If someone experiences COVID-19 symptoms during a trip
• The sick person should be removed from the trip. If this is not feasible, they should be isolated from others for the remainder of the trip.
• The symptomatic person should:
o Be required to wear a mask for the remainder of the trip.
o Be kept at least 6 feet from others for the remainder of the trip, if feasible.
o Sleep in a separate isolation tent with a dedicated sleep kit for the remainder of the trip.
o Use a single set of utensils for the remainder of the trip.
o Be advised to cough into elbow creases.
o Be kept well hydrated.
• Good hand and surface hygiene are critical to preventing transmission.
• Self-transport reduces the risks to others and emergency technicians. If you are using a commercial shuttle service via vehicle or boat, call and notify the company immediately.
• If a high-risk individual (see definition above) experiences worsening conditions, recommend immediate evacuation or increasing river miles and/or pace of trip to expedite advanced medical care.
• If respiratory emergencies develop, call Grand Canyon Dispatch at 928-638-7911. Rangers will be able to strategize the best emergency options for your trip. Location and/or coordinates are very important.
• Coordinate with local officials to conduct contact tracing, especially among other people, such as shuttle drivers and local shops.
• In consultation with the NPS public health consultant and medical professionals, consider a quarantine of the other trip participants who have been in close contact with the positive individual.
• Employees with a confirmed case of COVID 19 should follow medical guidance on staying home until non-infectious.

Precautions to minimize transmission risk
• Follow CDC guidelines. Discuss with others and have a plan if someone gets sick on your trip.
• River trips should be managed according to groups who are traveling together.
• The number of people in cars should be reduced to accommodate spreading out of individuals. Groups traveling together may be seated together. Family and Friends should develop their own transportation plan following current public health guidance.
• Trip Individuals should be spaced according to current guidelines in food lines and while eating meals, hiking, and camping.
• Having one or more containers of water so each person uses the same container for refilling water bottles on a trip.
• Washing hands in camp and when feasible while on river and land-based trips and using hand sanitizer.
• Exercise caution at boat ramps: make sure individuals can maintain a 6ft distance from other groups. Do not crowd ramps. Space your group out accordingly to allow for safe launches and de-rigging.

Food Service Guidelines
• Use of gloves and face coverings is recommended when preparing food in a group setting.
• Wipe down all common touched areas with sterilizing wipes.

Toilet Facilities Guidelines
• Good handwashing and using sterilizing wipes on all common touched areas.
• Everyone has their own role of toilet paper.
• “In use” system that does not involve touching items with hands.

Hand Washing on the Trip
• Hand wash systems should be set up first when arriving in camp or at any other stopping point and remain set up for the duration of the stop.
• Handwashing stations should be set up at entrance to toilet facilities and near the kitchen area.
• Hand washing should occur:
o Upon arrival in camp.
o After unloading boats or vehicles.
o After blowing one’s nose, touching face, coughing or sneezing.
o Before and after using the toilet.
o Before eating or preparing food.
o Before putting dishes away and/or packing up “kitchen.”
o After removing gloves and before donning new gloves
o After contact with a person who is ill.

Personal Camping and Gear
• Swapping gear and camping items should be avoided for the duration of the trip.
• Tents should be sprayed with sanitizer and let dry in direct sunlight before returning to tent bag.
• Tents, cots, and other rented items should be sanitized between trips.

Vehicles
• Plan on having your vehicles shuttled early so they are parked at your end destination. This will allow them to sit for a few days and decontaminate. If someone is experiencing symptoms, self-shuttle will be quicker.
• All vehicles should be cleaned and sanitized after each trip. All surfaces should be wiped down including all handles (inside and outside), seat belts, seat belt latches, hard surfaces (windows), dash, knobs, steering wheel, etc.
• Hand sanitizer should be available in vehicles.

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