Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires masks again as COVID-19 cases rise

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As COVID-19 cases spike, face masks are once again required inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park buildings.

The Tennessee counties surrounding the park (Blount, Cocke and Sevier) are considered high-risk areas by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Knox County is also a high transmission zone.

The CDC uses hospitalization data and new case counts to determine the safety level in each community. In "high" zones, masks are recommended indoors and those at risk should take extra precautions.

"Effective immediately and until further notice, face masks are now required in all park facilities to protect the health and safety of you, your co-workers, partners, contractors, and park visitors," an email from the park's volunteer office reads.

Masks are required regardless of vaccination status. The need will be assessed each week based on CDC data, according to the email.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just the latest national wilderness area to require masks again as COVID cases rise again. Denali National Park in Alaska announced a similar rule for masks inside its buildings and buses last month.

Contributing: Zach Wichter, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Great Smoky Mountains National Park requiring face masks again