Wyoming COVID-19 hospitalizations tracks surge in cases
CHEYENNE, WYO. | MEAD GRUVER, (AP) — Wyoming coronavirus hospitalizations reached a new high Wednesday as a fall surge in infections continued unabated, raising concern that small hospitals could run out of room to treat intensive-care patients.
Forty-seven people were hospitalized with the COVID-19 illness, up from 24 a week ago, which at the time was the most since hospitalizations peaked at 23 in April.
The 47 patients were at 14 hospitals around the state. Wyoming health officials aren’t worried that COVID-19 patients were about to overwhelm any specific hospital, department spokeswoman Kim Deti said.
The small intensive-care capacities at most Wyoming hospitals were a general concern, however.
“Any of the small ones would be of concern because with their capacity, it just doesn’t take much,” Deti said Wednesday. ”None of our hospitals are terribly large.”
Wyoming Medical Center in Casper had the most COVID-19 patients, 12, followed by Sheridan Memorial Hospital with five. Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, SageWest Health Care-Lander, Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie and Cody Regional Health had four each.
The hospitals in Cody, Gillette, Lander and Afton reported to the department their intensive care units were full, but ICU patients aren’t necessarily COVID-19 patients, Deti said.
“What we are starting to hear, anecdotally, is some of the hospitals are expressing concern,” Deti said.
The increase mirrored a fall surge in coronavirus. On Wednesday, almost 1,400 people in Wyoming were reported to have the virus and not have recovered, up from about 500 during most of last summer.
The increase prompted Gov. Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist on Monday to repeat previous exhortations that people wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands to avoid spreading the virus.
Though in-person school is back in session throughout Wyoming and a significant number of active cases were at the University of Wyoming — 141 students and three staff Wednesday — the surge is centered on no single geographic area or demographic.
Wyoming officials have instead blamed the increase on widespread weariness with measures to keep the virus in check.
The number of coronavirus cases in Wyoming and elsewhere is thought to be far higher than reported figures because not everyone has been tested and people can have COVID-19 without showing symptoms.