As the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide rises, state and local agencies are preparing for the virus to spread to Wyoming and urging the public to take common-sense prevention measures.
Wyoming has no reported cases of the coronavirus, and the Wyoming Department of Health has been taking steps to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 will be minimal in the state should any cases arise.
“We believe the risk to our residents remains low,” Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said. “However, it is true that the likelihood that COVID-19 will spread to our state is increasing.”
In a public service announcement released March 5, Johnson County Healthcare Center CEO Sean McCallister wrote that the clinic and hospital are utilizing tools and information provided by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate infection prevention programs. The hospital is also monitoring its medical supply levels and healthcare resources.
McCallister wrote that hospital staff train and drill for “patient surge scenarios.”
McCallister urged individuals to take common-sense precautions to prevent the spread of illness, including staying home from work or school when ill and washing hands frequently, and suggested that families “develop a plan regarding work, school, childcare, etc.” McCallister also wrote of the need to “seek information from reliable sources due to COVID-19’s evolving status in our country.”
On Monday, McCallister announced the healthcare center had begun screening visitors to Amie Holt Care Center.
“What we now know is that the elderly are very vulnerable to this virus,” McCallister said. “Given that information, we are now screening everyone before visiting at Amie Holt Care Center.”
On Thursday, Johnson County Healthcare Center director of marketing Marcy Schueler said that any reports of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Amie Holt Care Center are rumors. There are no confirmed cases at the care center, she said.
Johnson County Emergency Management will hold a meeting with other county agencies to create an action plan should the new coronavirus be detected in Wyoming.
“This is going to be a working meeting to develop an incident action plan for us in this county,” said Marilyn Connolly, the county’s emergency management coordinator.
Dr. Mark Schueler, the county’s health officer, will lead the March 13 meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. in the Johnson County Public Health Office. Agencies, including the healthcare center, local schools, public health, local law enforcement and others, will discuss their roles and responsibilities, as well as interagency cooperation, Connolly said.
Last week, the Johnson County School District sent a letter to parents reiterating a long-standing policy that students who have a fever of greater than 100.0 degrees are prohibited from attending school.
As of Tuesday, with 35 states reporting positive cases of COVID-19 to the CDC, concerns have risen regarding the availability of COVID-19 testing kits and the availability of laboratories to process those tests. There is no cause for concern in Wyoming, Deti said.
“The demand for testing has been low so far,” Deti said. “We always had the ability to request testing at the CDC and sent just one submission to CDC over the last several weeks to them, which was negative.”
The Department of Health has received testing materials recommended by the CDC and, according to Deti, will have the ability to conduct hundreds of tests if the need should arise.
“We also expect some private laboratories to begin some testing services,” Deti said. “We won’t be screening those requests ahead of time, but results will be reported to us.”
If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, please call 684-2223 to make an appointment to be evaluated by a physician. According to the CDC, you should disclose your symptoms, as well as health and travel history; this will help the healthcare provider take steps to keep other people from getting exposed or infected.