Current COVID-19 restrictions stay in place
July 2, 2020
The process of easing the restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Wyoming has come to a temporary halt as the coronavirus shows signs of more rapid spread. Governor Mark Gordon announced on Monday that the health orders currently in place will be extended until July 15.
“It is clear from the recent increase in cases statewide that the dual threat of COVID-19 to both the health of our citizens and the health of our economy is not going away,” Gordon said in a press release.
“No one wants to see the progress we have made vanish, but that requires each of us to make a concerted effort to slow the spread of the virus. It is really simple and depends on everyone practicing good hygiene, social distancing and doing their best to wear a mask in public where social distancing isn’t possible. It’s the way you and our economy will both stay healthy.”
New cases of COVID-19 have been rising sharply over the last couple of weeks, including an all-time high of 36 new cases on Thursday.
In fact, the state announced on Monday that a quarter of Wyoming’s total cases during this pandemic have been identified over the last two weeks. New cases have appeared in 15 counties and reflect increased transmission within communities.
“We expected to see more cases over time and believe we are in a better position to respond now than earlier,” Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) said in a statement last week.
“However, this virus has shown us simple actions and choices that might not seem like a big deal at the time can harm others and quickly change the disease picture within a community. That’s why we need people to be mindful of what they can do to slow the spread of the virus.”
Many of the new cases are linked to an outbreak in Uinta County. As of Monday, the total number of people confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 there had reached 140.
Meanwhile, Park County was once among the counties with single-digit cases, but a second hotspot appears to be developing. On June 23, Park County Public Health announced its tally had reached 11 positive cases, many of which were asymptomatic and none of which had been linked to tourism; on Monday, this figure had reached 32.
In Crook County, no new cases have been identified since an adult male was diagnosed with COVID-19 last Tuesday, bringing the local total to seven. The case is thought to have been identified during pre-surgery screening, according to Crook County Public Health.
The newest confirmed case is now also the only active case in the county. Five of the seven cases were confirmed early on in the pandemic and the most recent, a child who was also identified during pre-surgery screening, has been announced as recovered by the WDH.
According to CEO Micki Lyons of Crook County Medical Services District (CCMSD), mandatory testing has now begun at the long term care facility, with 20% of staff and patients being tested every week for as long as this measure is needed. The screening process being used at the county’s medical facilities will continue, she said.
CCMSD has chosen not to do antibody testing as none of the available tests are specific to COVID-19, Lyons said. The tests check for antibodies to all the COVID-type viruses, instead of just the specific virus that is of interest at this time; the one test that is specific to COVID-19 is not available right now, she said.
It’s become increasingly clear the virus spreads mainly between people when they are close to each other, Harrist said: “When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, the tiny respiratory droplets they produce can spread through the air to people who are nearby, typically within 6 feet.”
In a press release, Harrist urged people experiencing any symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 to stay home from work and away from others, except if medical care is needed.
“We’ve seen examples of people spreading the virus among coworkers. Depending on the size and nature of the employer, a few sick workers or many sick workers can have potentially devastating effects on the businesses we count on for jobs and services,” she said.
Harrist also once again urged the use of masks in public places, regular hand washing or use of hand sanitizer and social distancing wherever possible.
The state orders that were previously set to expire at the end of the month have been extended to June 15. These allow 50 persons to gather in a confined space without restrictions and events of up to 250 people with social distancing and increased sanitization measures.
Faith-based gatherings including church services and funeral homes may continue to operate without restrictions and all restrictions applied to businesses such as restaurants, bars, gyms and performance spaces remain in place.