The number of coronavirus cases in Wyoming reached 216 on Tuesday with the diagnosis of four new cases in three counties.
Meanwhile, state health officials followed the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging everyone who visits a place where people congregate — such as a grocery store or pharmacy — to wear face masks.
“If and when you do need to go out in to the community, this is an extra voluntary measure CDC is suggesting to help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer.
Tuesday’s new cases were reported in Laramie, Teton and Washakie counties.
As of Tuesday morning, Laramie County had 47 cases; Teton County had 41; Fremont County had 38; Natrona had 26; Sheridan had 12; Campbell had nine; Johnson had eight; Sweetwater and Washakie had five; Albany, Carbon, Converse and Lincoln had four each, and Goshen and Uinta had three. Crook, Park and Sublette counties each had one.
The recommendation for everyone to wear face masks came Monday as federal officials said it would be the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus by people who may have the illness but do not know it.
“The virus can spread between people who are close to each other without them realizing it is happening,” Harrist said. “That’s the reason for this change and new recommendation.”
Harrist, stressed the masks are no substitute for simply avoiding close contact with other people.
“It is critical for everyone to continue following the public health orders we have in place in Wyoming,” she said. “Wearing a face covering is absolutely not a substitute for social distancing, which remains important to slowing the spread of this virus.”
In other developments:
Returning doctors: The Wyoming Board of Medicine adopted rules making it easier for retired and non-practicing doctors and physicians’ assistants to re-enter the medical field. The board agreed to allow doctors to resume practice if they pass a routine medical background check. Previously, the board would check the references of a doctor who had not practiced for several years to make sure the doctor had kept up with ongoing medical training.
The move is seen as a way to boost the state’s health care workforce. The doctors will be reactivated for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.
School’s out: Students at Cheyenne schools have been told it is unlikely they will return to the classroom for the rest of the school year. Boyd Brown, the superintendent of Laramie County School District No. 1, told district trustees on Monday “It will be a blessing if we get the opportunity to come back any earlier.” Boyd also asked trustees to consider extending the next school year by five to 10 days to make up for the education time lost while students are being taught at home.
Food help: The Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies began delivering food around the state with its mobile pantry. In the first week of their trips to provide assistance during the coronavirus outbreak, the pantries have provided food for more than 6,000 people. Stops are scheduled for April 17 in Kaycee and April 21 in Buffalo.
Local food distribution groups are also busy during the pandemic. The Food Closet in Marbleton reported giving away a record amount of groceries, handing out 100 “sets” of groceries on April 2. A “set” includes boxes and bags of fresh produce, dry goods and frozen meat.
More in isolation: The Fremont County Incident Management Team announced Monday that another 66 county residents were advised over the weekend to self-isolate because they were displaying symptoms of coronavirus. This brings to 750 the number of people advised to self-isolate in Fremont County in the last 14 days.
More masks: People across the state continue to create masks for health care officials and others. In Sublette County, a team of about 15 seamstresses working under the auspices of Marbleton’s Southwest Sublette Pioneers Senior Center are working to put together 500 cloth face masks for health care workers in Marbleton, Big Piney and Pinedale.
Powell graduation: While some high schools across the state have canceled graduation ceremonies, Powell officials said their graduates deserve a commencement, even if it is delayed. Jay Curtis, superintendent of Park County School District No. 1, said graduation is the culmination of 13 years of hard work. “I believe those kids deserve to walk across the stage in front of their friends and family. Whether it’s in May or whether it’s in July they deserve a ceremony.”
Free movies: For those who miss movie theaters, the Ten Sleep Recreation District is running a free double feature at the Ten Sleep Rodeo Grounds. Two movies will be shown on Friday and Saturday on an outdoor screen. Viewers are being asked to be vigilant about social distancing and are reminded that no restroom facilities will be available. “This is a gathering we can offer to support each other during this difficult time and still be in compliance with the governor’s recommendation,” the district said in a Facebook post. “We would love to continue doing so as long as everyone can be responsible.”