Coronavirus Risk Remains Low In Wyoming

Mar 12, 2020

Credit CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

Top state officials on Thursday said the risk for the coronavirus in the state remains low.

The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) said there is still only one reported case of COVID-19 in the state. A woman in Sheridan County was confirmed to have the coronavirus on Wednesday, March 11.

Gov. Mark Gordon said at a press conference that residents should be proactive and follow recommended precautions like handwashing and staying home if sick.

"With an overabundance of caution and as a proactive measure to protect the residents of Wyoming, I am recommending whether large community gatherings and events of over 250 should take place," he said.

Gordon said people or communities planning big events should work in conjunction with their local county officials and health officers.

State Public Health Officer Alexia Harrist said older people and those with chronic illnesses, like diabetes and heart and lung diseases, should take extra precautions. Harrist said the Department of Health is working with long-term care facilities in the state to protect residents.

Gordon added that state employees should carefully consider out-of-state travel in coordination with their respective agencies.

"By enacting mitigation measures, we can hopefully decrease the spread of the disease and most importantly, not overwhelm our health care facilities should the need for high level care be required," he said.

State agencies are setting up a unified command center, in the basement of the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security in Cheyenne, in order to coordinate planning and response. Wyoming Department of Homeland Security Director Lynn Budd said regular meetings for officials will help keep everyone on the same page.

"It helps to have everyone in one place. We're all going to be there together," Budd said.

Harrist said WDH is able to do hundreds of tests on residents at this point and added the tests for confirming COVID-19 must be done in a lab. Harrist said WDH will receive $4.5 million from the Centers for Disease Control to support a range of things related to the outbreak, like supplies and lab testing.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow said the Department of Education will be releasing a memo to districts on Friday that will have guidance for different scenarios.

Balow said the department wants districts to work with their local officials on making decisions about schools.

"Every community has the capacity to make great decisions when done in conjunction with local county and state health departments regarding closures, hybrid education, homebound education, etcetera," she said.

The University of Wyoming announced Thursday that it's extending its spring break.

Additionally, the Northern Wyoming Community College District said it will also extend its spring break through April 5, with the goal of classes resuming on Monday, April 6.

"The District learned today that one faculty member and one student, both on the Sheridan College campus, were asked to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to the virus by Sheridan County public health officials," according to a statement from the district.

Symptoms for COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Experts believe COVID-19 spreads mostly between people who are in close contact and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most ill with obvious symptoms. A person may also get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

For more information about coronavirus disease 2019 and Wyoming, visit: https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, atcwheel11@uwyo.edu.