On Thursday, Johnson County's first two cases of the coronavirus were confirmed.
The first case was confirmed Thursday morning by the Wyoming Department of Health. Johnson County Emergency Management said in a press release that the patient is an adult male. The Wyoming Department of Health has directed him and his immediate companions to isolate at home. The Department of Health will follow up with those who many have been in contact with the individual whose case has been confirmed.
Dr. Mark Schueler, Johnson County Public Health Officer, said the man whose symptoms began about five days ago was tested in Sheridan and the test was run by a private lab. He is middle-aged.
The second confirmed positive is also a middle-aged man. According to a press release sent Thursday evening by Johnson County Emergency Management, two patients were tested at the Johnson County Healthcare Center on March 24. One patient tested positive. Results for the second patient tested at JCHC are pending.
Schueler said that while the positive case "brings it a little closer to home," the reality is that the virus has been in the community for some time, and the positive test does not change anything in terms of behavior. Locals should continue to follow the directions from Gov. Mark Gordon to stay home as much as possible.
"The reality is, there’s more than one case, we just haven’t identified them or done enough testing to find them," Schueler said. "Our community and our state has done an admirable job in controlling the spread of this virus and it’s paying off. And we should feel good about how well we’re getting the job done right now."
To date, seven tests conducted at the Johnson County Healthcare Center have come back as negative.
The news came as the state's coronavirus case count grew to 55 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.