GATLINBURG, Tenn. -- The reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a little too tempting of a draw as scores of nature lovers from dozens of states crowded trails and trekked into blocked-off areas.
A park spokeswoman on Saturday said parking lots were packed and lines of cars snaked down tree-lined streets. Many people did not wear masks.
Visitors also walked past heavy barricades on one of the park’s most trafficked trails, Laurel Falls, which was closed off to heed federal social distancing guidelines.
On the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Great Smoky Mountains is the county’s most visited national park. It was closed March 24.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.