Lab testing at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory has identified the first known case of a state resident with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said the patient is an adult female from Sheridan County with some recent domestic travel history.
In a statement released Wednesday night, the Department of Health wrote it is following up to learn more details about the person’s exposure risk and to identify and communicate with anyone who may have been in close contact with the patient. Known contacts will be monitored for symptoms and tested if needed. As is currently standard, the test result is considered to be a “presumptive positive” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will conduct further testing for confirmation.
Harrist noted the current risk of transmission in Wyoming remains low for most residents. “We expected to identify a case in Wyoming at some point because the reach of the disease is clearly growing. Travelers to certain affected locations and close contacts of ill people are still overall at the highest risk of becoming ill,” she said.
“Our state has been planning for this situation for weeks and we will continue our coordinated efforts to address this threat,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “I pledge to work closely with our state agencies, federal partners and local officials to ensure we are implementing all the necessary steps to protect public health.”
Harrist said symptoms reported with this disease are familiar: fever, cough and shortness of breath. There are many different coronaviruses, some of which cause the common cold in people and others that circulate among animals.
Experts believe COVID-19 spreads mostly between people who are in close contact and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most ill with obvious symptoms. A person may also get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.