Wyoming coronavirus case count jumps to 53; Gordon urges people to stay home
Compiled from Wyoming News Exchange Newspapers
Wyoming’s coronavirus case count grew to 53 on Thursday, but reports from two county health agencies indicated some of those patients have already recovered.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Gordon again urged Wyoming residents to stay home if at all possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus and avoid the need for further restrictions on activity around the state.
“We are not trying to shut down Wyoming,” he said during a news conference. “But your voluntary action and discipline will make the difference on whether we can slow the spread of COVID-19. I want to emphasize the orders we put in place are only effective if you take them seriously.”
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wyoming grew by 12 on Wednesday, and by four Thursday morning, with new cases detected in Natrona, Albany, Laramie, Teton, Fremont and Johnson counties.
The one case reported in Albany and Johnson counties by Thursday morning were the counties’ first. Laramie County’s case count went up by six, while Teton County’s went up by four and the totals in Fremont and Natrona counties each increased by two.
However, Albany County health officials reported that the one coronavirus patient identified in the county had already recovered from the illness after self-isolation.
In Sheridan County, health officials reported all four of the people diagnosed with the illness have recovered.
As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Fremont and Laramie counties had the highest number of coronavirus cases at 14. Teton County had seven cases; Natrona County had six; Sheridan County had four; and Carbon County had three. Albany, Campbell, Park, Sweetwater and Johnson counties reported one case each.
During his news conference, Gordon urged Wyoming residents to comply with the state’s three orders limiting business and personal activity around the state.
One order has closed businesses likely to draw 10 or more people, such as bars, theaters and fitness clubs, another ordered the closure of businesses providing personal services, such as hair salons and barbershops, and the third prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people.
Gordon said the limits were important to protect Wyoming residents and people involved in the health care industry.
“We want to make sure that should this crisis come in greater detail … that we have adequate hospital facilities,” he said. “It’s not just coronavirus that we are worried about this. If our hospitals are filled and somebody breaks a leg, you will not be able to be taken to a hospital.”
Also on Wednesday, Mike Ceballos, director of the state Department of Health, reported the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory’s testing capacity for coronavirus has increased by tenfold since testing began.
As of Thursday, more than 1,100 tests had been conducted, 865 by the Health Laboratory and 239 by private commercial laboratories.
In other developments:
Food assistance: First Lady Jennie Gordon announced during her husband’s news conference on Wednesday that the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies would be taking mobile food pantries around the state to distribute food where needed. The first lady said the pantries will begin traveling the state on March 31.
Park closures: The National Park Service on Wednesday ordered the closure of Devils Tower National Monument in response to requests from health officers in Crook County.
“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners is our number one priority,” the Park Service said in a news release.
The closure came one day after the Park Service closed Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
Unemployment: Robin Cooley, director of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, said her office has added 15 people to its unemployment claims processing division to get through the increased number of requests for claims being submitted to the state. She added the average Wyoming resident should receive unemployment benefits within two days of filing a a claim.
Teton Science School: The Teton Science School announced it would suspend all residential programming until Aug. 15, lay off 26 field instructors who work for part of the year and furlough 16 other people who work in field education and administration.
“Our outdoor classroom has been essential to our mission for over 50 years and we look forward to when groups again travel to the Tetons for learning,” said Chris Agnew, the school’s executive director.
Keep on reading: The Natrona County Library on Wednesday announced it has donated more than 5,000 books to homebound students and another 400 large-print books to Natrona County Meals on Wheels to be given to senior citizens.
State parks open: The State Parks and Cultural Resources Division reminded residents that while some national parks are closing, state parks remain open.
“With plenty of wide open spaces, individuals and families can explore on their own or establish a safe distance between themselves and others,” the division said in a news release. “The benefit of fresh Wyoming air is an added bonus.”
Ventilator help: A Cody High School graduate who now leads a business consulting firm in Ukraine purchased four ventilators for Cody Regional Health. The purchase of the four units at a total cost of almost $50,000 gives the hospital 12 of the machines.
Business assistance: The Sundance Chamber of Commerce has launched a donation drive aimed at supporting local businesses and essential personnel.