COVID-19

In Grangeville, Idaho, population 3,000, Syringa Hospital has just 15 beds, an emergency room and a clinic. As is common in rural medicine, the chief medical officer, Dr. Matthew Told, is also a family practice OB and, on a recent evening, the on-call ER doc.

"We don't have ventilator services, we don't have respiratory therapy," Told says during a break between seeing patients.

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There aren't many places to get toilet paper right now thanks to stockpiling in response to COVID-19. Some people are having to use alternative products, like baby wipes, facial tissue, and paper towels - but not all paper products are made the same and flushing something besides toilet paper can cause plumbing problems.

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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.

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The Wyoming Department of Health says a third case of COVID-19 was identified in Sheridan County. The Department says the man was linked to a Sheridan County woman who was the state's first case. The Department says the man was visiting Colorado and tested positive there.

Updated at 8:38 p.m. ET

The U.S. and countries around the world continued to adapt to the spreading coronavirus pandemic by imposing new restrictions Saturday, as the virus upended travel plans, pushed back elections and forced major companies to adapt.

In Washington, the Trump administration said Saturday that the U.S. would extend the current ban on travel from Europe to include the U.K. and Ireland, effective midnight Monday.

How long can the new coronavirus live on a surface, like say, a door handle, after someone infected touches it with dirty fingers? A study out this week finds that the virus can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

Oil prices bounced back a bit after President Trump said the Department of Energy would buy crude for the nation's strategic petroleum reserve.

"We're going to fill it right to the top," Trump said Friday in a wide-ranging news conference at the White House. He said it will save taxpayers "billions and billions of dollars" while helping an industry that's been reeling.

While oil prices increased nearly 5% after Friday's announcement, that was just a fraction of the amount they lost earlier in the week.

Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAMS


The official recommendation for people who might have COVID-19 - the coronavirus you've been hearing about - is to stay home. But that's easier said than done for many in the state.

In what's looking more like a public health debacle, the U.S. has a serious testing problem with the coronavirus. Only around 15,000 people have been tested so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And public health experts say that's not nearly enough to know how widespread the outbreak is and how to respond.

But the Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new test from the giant pharmaceutical company Roche that could represent a major breakthrough.

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.

This is part of a new series looking at pressing coronavirus questions of the week. We'd like to hear what you're curious about. Email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday declared that the coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency, a designation that frees up as much as $50 billion in federal assistance to state and local governments overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, and makes it easier to surge medical resources to areas that need them most.

Remote rural towns are a good place to be early in a pandemic, as they tend to be more spread out, which potentially means fewer chances to catch a bug. Remote rural areas are also, by definition, way removed from major seaports, airports and often even big highways. So it generally takes longer for new viruses to show up in tiny towns, like Fredonia, Kan.

"I always say it's a hundred miles from anywhere," says Cassie Edson, with the Wilson County Health Department. "It's a hundred miles from Wichita, a hundred miles to Joplin, a hundred miles to Tulsa."

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.

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In an announcement made Thursday afternoon, Acting University of Wyoming President Neil Theobald said spring break would be extended to two weeks, with students returning on March 30. And while the university is holding off on moving classes completely online, the extended break is meant to give faculty time to prepare for distance learning in case it becomes necessary.

Ted Brummond, University of Wyoming Photo Service

Two major actions ​regarding sports ​activities across Wyoming came on Thursday because of concerns over COVID-19. 

Map of the COVID-19 outbreak as of 11 March 2020.
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The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) has reported an adult female from Sheridan County with recent domestic travel has tested positive for COVID-19.

The announcement Wednesday evening followed a lab test from the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory in Cheyenne. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will conduct further testing, but the test result will be considered a "presumptive positive."

Teams around the world -- including at least two labs in the Mountain West -- are racing to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus. 

A group at Colorado State University is working on ways to inactivate the virus, which is one option for developing a vaccine. 

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