Wyoming's COVID-19 cases rise to 187; governor orders quarantine for visitors to state
April 2, 2020
The number of reported coronavirus cases in Wyoming surged to 187 on Saturday morning, an increase of 21 cases overnight.
Eight counties showed a rise in reported cases, with Fremont County — one of the cases hardest hit by the virus — increasing by nine.
As of Saturday morning, Laramie County remained the hardest hit in Wyoming with 42 cases. Teton County and Fremont counties both reported 36; Natrona had 23; Sheridan had 11; Johnson had eight; Campbell had seven; Carbon, Sweetwater and Albany counties reported four each; Converse showed three; Washakie, Goshen and Uinta counties had two each. Finally, Lincoln, Sublette, Park counties had just one case each.
The remaining counties — Crook, Weston, Niobrara, Platte, Hot Springs and Big Horn — have reported no coronavirus cases.
The Wyoming Department of Health also reports that 49 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday ordered all out-of-state visitors to Wyoming to self-quarantine for 14 days and extended until the end of April the orders closing schools and some businesses in the state.
Gordon said during a news conference that officials expect the coronavirus outbreak to peak in Wyoming in May.
“What we’re looking at is our peak coming sometime in early May and our behaviors, we will look at on a regular basis, but we’re hoping that by sometime in May, we can look at the metrics … and have good news for the people of Wyoming,” he said.
Gordon, in a Friday news release, said any person visiting Wyoming for non-work purposes is to self-quarantine for 14 days or until the end of his stay.
Gordon said the directive is designed to discourage people from visiting Wyoming until the COVID-19 outbreak is over.
“We know that travel from another state or country is a source of COVID-19 infections in Wyoming,” he said. “Visitors from neighboring states have strained the resources of many Wyoming communities, so we are asking them to do the right thing to protect the health of our citizens and the resources of our rural health care facilities.”
The state issued three orders in March designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
One closed schools and businesses likely to draw more than 10 people, such as theaters and bars; one closed businesses that provide personal services, such as hair salons and tattoo parlors; and the third prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.
Gordon said he and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, decided to extend the orders until April 30 in the face of continued growth in the number of coronavirus cases in the state.
“We are seeing community transmission of COVID-19 occur around the state and we will continue to see more confirmed cases in the weeks to come,” he said. “This action will help lower the rate of transmission and protect both our health care system and the health care workers we all rely on.”
During his news conference, Gordon maintained the statewide orders are as effective in limiting the movements of the state residents as “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders issued in other states.
Gordon said the orders in place in other states often contain many exemptions, making them essentially the same as Wyoming’s orders.
“One of our Wyoming values is to talk less and say more,” he said. “Our Wyoming orders talk less and say more.”
Meanwhile, state Department of Health officials announced that after completing more than 1,800 tests of samples from from people suspected of being infected with coronavirus, the state’s Public Health Laboratory will limit the samples it tests.
Harrist announced Thursday the laboratory would only test samples from high-priority patients, health care workers and first responders.
Harrist said the move is designed to preserve the supply of testing materials available to the lab.
“It’s been clear for some time that materials needed for sample collection and testing are in very short supply in Wyoming and across the nation,” she said. “We’ve done well so far at our lab, but our concern about supplies of certain materials we need for testing has grown.”
Harrist said for the time being, testing would be limited to samples from the following: Health care workers and first responders; hospitalized patients; patients or staff in facilities such as nursing homes; people over 65 with underlying health conditions and the people who have close contact with them; and pregnant women.
Harrist recommended that samples from other patients be sent to private commercial laboratories.
In other developments:
Unemployment claims: The state Department of Workforce Services said the state received 4,652 new claims for unemployment insurance last week, an increase of 800 percent from the week before businesses began shutting down because of the coronavirus. The biggest group of claims — 952 — came from leisure and hospitality industry workers, the department said.
VA Hospitals: Veterans Affairs clinics in Afton, Evanston, Riverton, Laramie, Wheatland, Torrington and Casper have ended face-to-face patient visits, however, enrolled veterans can receive care with telehealth services. Veterans Affairs hospitals in Sheridan and Cheyenne remain open.
UW workers: The University of Wyoming announced it will continue to pay its 2,200 student workers through the end of the spring semester, a move expected to cost about $1.5 million. The move is part of the university’s $2 million commitment to provide students with “financial security” during the coronavirus outbreak.
Job survey: More than 30 percent of those responding to a University of Wyoming survey reported they or a family member have lost their job or been laid off because of the coronavirus epidemic. The survey also showed that more than 50 percent of those questioned reported they or an immediate family member have had their pay or hours cut. The survey is the first of a series to be conducted by the university’s Survey and Analysis Center.
More on masks: Wyoming residents continue to provide masks for health care providers, manufacturing them by sewing and through 3D printing. Officials with the Sheridan Memorial Hospital report they are receiving an average of 300 masks per day from 30 individuals who stepped up to help.
At the University of Wyoming, all the 3D printers at its Engineering Education and Research Building Student Innovation Center are being used to produce masks for the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. On Monday, the university provided 115 masks for the medical center.
In Campbell County, DeeDee Peterson has organized a network of quilters and people who know how to sew to create masks for donation to various organizations in Gillette.
Donations: The Rocky Mountain Power Foundation announced it will donate $311,500 to community service organizations in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. Donations to Wyoming organizations were $40,000 for First Lady Jennie Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative, $30,000 for the Wyoming Rescue Mission in Casper, $5,500 for the Boys and Girls Club of Glenrock and $3,000 for Energy Share of Wyoming.
Parade time: Two parades are planned next week in Gillette to entertain residents of a nursing home that has been closed to visitors because of the coronavirus. Parade participants, who are being encouraged to decorate their cars for Wednesday’s parades, will drive past the Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center.
Scavenger hunt: Lingle residents have created a drive-by scavenger hunt to entertain the town’s children. Sponsors of the event will put items in their windows that match the items listed for children to find. The parents of the children will then drive them around Lingle to see if they can find the items. Organizers said the event will last as long as social distancing guidelines are in place.