Hawaii Volcanoes National Park makes repairs during slowdown
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has taken advantage of reduced visitor numbers resulting from the coronavirus to repair and reopen parts of the park that were closed after the 2018 Kilauea eruption.
The Big Island park has been able to complete several eruption-repair projects in recent months, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.
Daily visitation statistics were not immediately available, but the number of visitors to the park has dropped dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic, park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.
Following the reinstatement of a 14-day mandatory quarantine for interisland travelers last week, current park visitors are primarily Big Island residents, Ferracane said.
Hawaii County has said 612 homes were destroyed during the massive Kilauea eruption that covered much of the lower Puna area in lava.
Repairs at the park have included fixing cracks that allowed the reopening of Hilina Pali Road from Chain of Craters Road to Kulanaokuaiki Campground, which also has reopened.
Chain of Craters Road opened to Holei Sea Arch after workers installed new guard rails and filled cracks last week. A new pedestrian bridge near Kilauea summit and repairs to barriers near the crater’s edge are nearing completion, Ferracane said.
The park hopes to reopen Kilauea Overlook and Crater Rim Trail to the overlook by the end of the month, Ferracane said.
Some park areas are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including the Kilauea Visitor Center, Volcano House and Thurston Lava Tube. Ranger-guided hikes and programs have been suspended.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.