Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

COVID-19 orders to stay in place

Eighth confirmed case reported in Crook County


July 16, 2020

Infection numbers continue to rise across Wyoming, as do the number of people hospitalized as a result of COVID-19. The figures now include an eighth confirmed case in Crooi County, a symptomatic adult female who is believed to have contracted the virus at a family gathering, according to Crook County Public Health.

The public health orders currently in place will be extended through July 31 as a result, Governor Mark Gordon announced on Monday.

“Our numbers keep rising and I think that’s of concern. Many of our counties are reporting increases in new cases and we have hundreds of people under quarantine orders here in Laramie County,” said Gordon at his most recent press conference.

The state broke its record on new cases on Saturday with 43 announced in one day. The figures show that, over the past two weeks, Wyoming has averaged 27 new cases per day, with 378 in total since the beginning of the month.

“I’m disappointed again that we continue to see case numbers rise,” Gordon said in a press release.

“Wyoming residents only need to look at what Texas, Florida and Arizona are experiencing to see how much damage being careless, not wearing a mask and failing to social distance can cause to our state’s economy, our citizens’ health and our healthcare system. I am encouraged to see many of our businesses taking this responsibility seriously and both requiring staff and urging customers to wear face coverings.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, after rising steadily over the previous week, the number of people who were hospitalized due to the virus rose to 17.

Not since April 22 have so many people been in hospital due to the coronavirus at one time. Numbers had dropped to a low of four at the beginning of June before beginning to climb again.

State health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist has stated that new cases were always expected, but this also means we will continue to see hospitalizations and deaths. Though some have dismissed the more recent cases as less dangerous due to the lower average age of people becoming infected, she reiterated that anyone is at risk and anyone can pass it on to more vulnerable people.

Once hovering around the 200 mark, the number of active cases has also risen over the last few weeks. On Monday, the total active cases across Wyoming reached 472.

An additional death was announced last Wednesday. A Laramie County adult man with no apparent health conditions known to increase the risk of serious illness was reported by the Wyoming Department Health to have succumbed to the virus.

Another death was reported Tuesday, this one an older man who had health conditions known to put patients at higher risk. This second death occurred in Sweetwater County.

Meanwhile, 1412 people previously reported among the state’s statistics are now said to have recovered. This number includes 1176 lab confirmed and 286 probable cases.

“The science is clear, wearing a face covering when you can’t social distance will keep people, and especially our economy, healthy, and our national security complete,” said the governor last week, urging Wyomingites to continue using their common sense and following the best practices that have been encouraged since the pandemic began.

We want our businesses to stay open, we want tourists to come here and stay safe, and we want visitors to Wyoming to know we expect them to exhibit the same respect towards us, Gordon said.

Dr. Harrist referenced the fast-growing case numbers in such places as Arizona and Texas in urging the public to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices.

“We’re really asking people to help us prevent that from happening here,” she said.

The governor answered criticism during his most recent press conference that he, too, has been seen in public without a face covering.

“As much as I possibly can, I try to wear a mask,” he said, acknowledging that there is a photo of him at the Republican dinner where someone came to speak with him and he failed to put his mask back on.

“I’d love to say my behavior has been perfect. I am human,” he said, expressing appreciation that the people of Wyoming are making sure their civic leaders do the right thing.

Gordon also spoke to remarks from President Donald Trump that all schools must open in fall and that he would persuade governors to have full in-class learning. This won’t change Wyoming’s plan, Gordon said.

“Wyoming is a state which values local control,” said the governor, commenting that school districts know what’s best and we can’t expect Washington, D.C. to know what’s best for everything. This state’s plan provides opportunity for kids to still learn at the same pace whether they are in the classroom or not, he said, but it does aim for full in-class teaching.

“It is, I think, essential that we try to have our kids back in school as much as possible, but I don’t want to endanger anyone,” he said.

The continuing orders that take effect July 16 allow gatherings up to 50 persons in a confined space to occur without restrictions and permit events of up to 250 persons with social distancing and increased sanitization measures in place. Faith-based gatherings such as church services and funeral homes will continue to be permitted to operate without restrictions, with appropriate social distancing encouraged.

The section of Order No. 1 addressing restaurant operations has been simplified, with the removal of some specific provisions to provide business owners additional flexibility and maintain an emphasis on spacing and face coverings. The public health restrictions that apply to bars, gyms and performance spaces will remain in place.

Contact Tracing

According to Melanie Wilmer of Crook County Public Health, if you have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 and live in Wyoming, contact tracers will identify themselves as being from the Wyoming Department of Health or a local county public health department. Depending on your exposure site, any of 23 county departments may contact you.

“Another state health department could also call you if you had exposure there. The purpose of this is to stop the potential spread of the virus,” Wilmer says. “One thing all contact tracing has in common is that they will never ask you for bank account numbers, money, medical insurance information and social security numbers. We will ask for physical addresses, birthdates, where you have been, whom you have had contact with, if you have symptoms, medical history and possible quarantine or isolation orders.” Wilmer warns that there are many scams out there right now.

“Please be cautious of those,” she says. “Call us at public health at 283-1142 if you have any questions or concerns about a contact tracing call.”


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