Sheridan County, Organizations Respond To Positive COVID-19 Case

Mar 13, 2020

Credit CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

There is one reported case of COVID-19 in the state. The Wyoming Department of Health reported a Sheridan County woman was confirmed to have the novel coronavirus.

Sheridan Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Addlesperger said the patient is staying at home and feeling better, as of when she was diagnosed. Some people who have had contact with her are in quarantine, but haven't shown any symptoms as of now, he added.

"The people are at home quarantine and will remain so for the next 14 days. We won't test them unless they show symptoms," Addlesperger said.

He said that state and local public health officials have told him they had contact all people who were at risk.

Sheridan Memorial is taking caution to keep patients and employees safe, Addlesperger said. The hospital is screening patients before coming in for clinic visits to keep them from getting sick.

"We're following guidelines for personal protective equipment, of course, and infection prevention techniques to keep our hospital clean and safe and our employees safe and keeping the patients that come in as safe as possible," he said.

At a press conference Thursday evening, Gov. Mark Gordon said the state's risk remains low.
Top state officials are stressing the importance of prevention in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. That means hand-washing, staying at home if sick, and considering whether to attend large gatherings.

After the news of the confirmed case, the Northern Wyoming Community College District said that one faculty member and one student at the Sheridan College have been asked by public health to self-quarantine for two weeks because of potential exposure.

The district announced it would be extending its spring break by two weeks.

"The extended break will allow NWCCD employees to prepare alternative methods of instruction as needed, assess the severity of the outbreak, and attempt to minimize impacts to local healthcare providers. In addition, in the event that students experience illness, they will have the opportunity to remain home," a statement from the district reads.

Sheridan County Public Health's Nurse Manager Debra Haar said the decision to extend spring break is a good step.

"I commend the District for helping reduce pressure on local healthcare infrastructure by implementing this break," Harr said in the statement.

District President Walter Tribley said he hopes this preventative measure will get the district reopened sooner. They hope to resume classes on Monday, April 6.

The Sheridan VA Medical Center is also taking preventative measures on its campus. The VA will not allow visitors at the Medical Center, though exception will be made on a case-by-case basis, according to a press release.

All visitors to campus will be pre-screened by staff with a few questions about current health, recent travel to areas with COVID-19 and if the visitors have had contact with people known to have the disease.

Additionally, The Hub on Smith, Sheridan's senior center, has decided to close starting Friday, March 13, to hopefully reduce the spread of the virus.

"The Hub will continue to provide their many other services including Home Delivered Meals, Transportation, and Help at Home. Services and Supports for Family Caregivers, the Loan Closet and Housing Assistance will be available via phone," according to the Hub.

People who need this kind of assistance are asked to call The Hub's support center at (307) 672-2240.

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, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.