Cody Regional Health and Park County Public Health officials are doing what they can to prevent a spike of local COVID-19 cases.
“We’re doing a great job, we’re really trying to be prepared, trying to be ahead of the curve rather than behind the curve,” CRH’s Dr. Adam Peters said.
But Peters said what makes tracking the virus difficult is that it has similar symptoms to influenza and pneumonia.
“We haven’t seen this huge influx yet,” Peters said. “They say it’s coming, they say a surge is coming.”
The pandemic has become so dire and supplies so low in places like Italy and Spain that ventilators have been taken from older victims of the disease for those younger, because they have a better chance of surviving, according to media reports.
Cody Regional Health announced on Monday that a generous donor has paid for three new ventilators at the hospital.
Peters said those who have possible symptoms for the viral disease are first tested for common illnesses like influenza before given a COVID-19 test, due to the limited amount of test kits available.
“If you’re positive (for other illnesses) then likelihood is you don’t have COVID-19,” Peters said. “Most people who get it are asymptomatic, but a minority of people really get sick with it.”
The number of people confirmed to have coronavirus in Wyoming grew to 26 over the weekend, and the state health officer issued an order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people in the latest effort to stop the spread of the virus.
The state entered the weekend with 22 cases, but testing revealed new cases in Carbon, Fremont and Laramie counties.
As of Monday morning, Fremont County continued to be the county with the highest number of cases, 10, followed by Laramie County with six.
Sheridan County had four cases, two were diagnosed in Teton County and the Health Department reported there was one case each in Campbell, Carbon, Natrona and Park counties.
With growing case numbers, Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, on Friday banned gatherings of 10 or more people.
Gov. Mark Gordon, in a statement expressing his support for the new order, said it has been proven that limiting social contact helps reduce the spread of coronavirus.
“I very much appreciate the willingness of our state’s residents to comply with this action,” he said in a news release. “Particularly because it is now becoming clear that young adults 18 to 50 are also at risk of being hospitalized from COVID-19.”
“People of any age can spread this disease to others who are especially vulnerable to more serious or life-threatening illness,” Harrist said in the news release. “We’ve recommended limits on gatherings, this order is an official step to put those recommendations into action. Slowing and limiting the spread of the disease is our goal.”
In other developments:
Small business loans: Gordon announced Saturday that all Wyoming businesses are now eligible to apply for up to $2 million in federal economic disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The low-interest loans are designed to provide businesses with working capital so they can survive until normal operations resume. The loan amounts depend on actual economic injury and financial needs.
Coronavirus testing: Cheyenne Regional Medical Center announced it would limit coronavirus testing because of a nationwide shortage of testing materials.
The hospital announced it would limit testing to patients requiring hospitalization because of their symptoms, patients with chronic medical conditions, people with compromised immune systems who show symptoms of COVID-19 and anyone having close contact with a coronavirus patient or a history of travel from a high-risk area.
Meanwhile, the state Public Health Laboratory reported it had processed 432 tests from the state as of Sunday evening and commercial private labs had tested 51 Wyoming residents.
Unemployment: The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported being deluged with calls from people seeking information about available assistance as a state order closed theaters, bars, museums, gyms and other businesses likely to draw more than 10 people.