Lander COVID-19 Case Points To "Potential Community Spread"

Mar 15, 2020

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming's second known COVID-19 patient is an older male resident of the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander. Officials with the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) say his case has not been linked to foreign or domestic travel. That signals that he was likely exposed by another member of the community.

"Our initial follow up with this individual found nothing that could be explained other than potential community spread of this virus in the Lander area," state health officer and epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist wrote in a statement Saturday.

Wyoming's first COVID-19 case, a Sheridan County woman, had travelled domestically before testing presumed-positive for the disease. Officials believe the state's third case, a Sheridan County man, is linked to the first.

The Lander patient is now in isolation at SageWest Health Care in Lander. Dr. Harrist and other state officials were in Lander this weekend conducting interviews at that facility and the Showboat Retirement Center to determine which residents, patients and staff are at risk of contracting the coronavirus. According to the Fremont County Public Health Department, data and tests from that visit have been sent to Cheyenne for processing.

In response, the city of Lander has entered stage 2 of its "COVID-19 Plan Of Action." That means all Lander Community and Convention Center events are canceled, and city buildings are closed to the public except by appointment. Lander City Council meetings will continue to be open to the public in compliance with open meeting laws. However, residents are encouraged to watch and participate via live stream.

The Lander City Police Department has asked residents to file police reports over the phone rather than in person, and is suspending "minor calls for service" including VIN inspections and dog-at-large reports.

"If you need an officer to respond to your house, be prepared to tell the dispatcher and officer if you are sick, have recently been sick, recently visited another country or recently visited any other affected state. Our officers will be donning personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves if they respond to your residence," The department wrote in a statement posted to its Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Showboat Retirement Center and several other elder care facilities in Fremont County are closed to visitors, in compliance with the state Department of Health's guidance.

"[Protecting the elderly] is probably our top concern and priority," Harrist wrote on Saturday. "There are things we don't yet fully understand about this disease, but it is clear that older people are among those at the very highest risk of severe illness."

Visit the CDC's website for information on COVID-19 and how not to spread it.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Savannah Maher, at smaher4@uwyo.edu.