Cody Regional Health is starting to feel some extra pressure from the rise in COVID-19 cases. The hospital opened up five more beds in its intensive care unit for patients, bringing the operating total to 10, said CEO Doug McMillan.
The primary concern, McMillan said, is not seeing an increased number of COVID patients – though the hospital has an average of around four patients with the disease they are tending to each day, up a bit from even three weeks ago – but the effects on hospital staff.
“We have an increased amount of staff out, either because of positive tests or close contacts,” McMillan said. “Many of our staff are now coming back.”
McMillan also said the transmission of the disease is not happening inside the hospital, but out in the community.
Many hospitals throughout the West and Midwest have shut their doors to elective procedures due to a spike in cases. McMillan said that won’t happen at Cody Regional unless the hospital has to start looking at transferring COVID patients because too many beds are taken up by those getting elective surgeries.
The rallying cry from the county’s largest employers, the school district and the hospital, has been for the community to step up and do their part to prevent the spread.
“This is real. This is serious,” McMillan said. “I recognize many are not believing in the science of this or masks or the recommendations from the CDC. It’s not important, it’s critical to recognize this is real.
“We have to start going back to basics – social distancing, wearing face masks, avoiding crowds. As a community, we need to support each other, support the recommendations from the CDC and locally from Dr. Billin and Park County Public Health. That’s the only way we can get this thing under control.”
Tuesday afternoon, the Wyoming Department of Health reported 301 active lab confirmed and probable cases in Park County. There were 11 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours. Statewide nearly 26% of people with positive cases are under 18 years old, the largest plurality of any age group.
Billin on Tuesday pointed to five deaths last week at a nursing home in Big Horn County as further evidence of the seriousness of the virus.
“This shows how dangerous this virus is once it gets into vulnerable populations,” he said. “Deaths are more related to the number of vulnerable people who catch the virus, than the total number of people that catch the virus. We have been successful in protecting vulnerable Park County populations so far, but need the continued cooperation of the community.
“It is going to get worse before it gets better.”
(Zac Taylor contributed to this report)