Wyoming Governor urges vigilance amid resurgence of virus
CHEYENNE, WYO. BY MEAD GRUVER, (AP) — Wyoming’s governor urged people to remain vigilant against the coronavirus amid a new surge in cases and hospitalizations that raised concern about small hospitals potentially reaching the limits of their ability to treat people.
“We have seen some very serious deterioration of conditions. We are trending in the wrong direction,” Gov. Mark Gordon said at a news conference Monday.
The 36 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wyoming on Monday was a record, up from no more than 20 at a time from April to mid-September and topping last spring’s peak of 23 hospitalizations April 20-21, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
“We are hearing about local hospitals starting to feel the pressure,” State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said at the news conference in Cheyenne. “Any of our hospitals being overwhelmed would be a serious problem.”
Eleven COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. SageWest Health Care in Lander and Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Sheridan had five each, with the remaining hospitalized patients spread among 11 other facilities around the state.
The virus also was more widespread in Wyoming than ever, including last spring when state officials shut down businesses and schools to try to limit its spread.
On Monday, over 1,300 people in Wyoming had tested positive or were considered probable cases and had not yet recovered. That was up from about 500 people at any given time over the summer, before the resurgence began in September.
Albany County, where the virus has been spreading among University of Wyoming students, led the state with 22 new cases Monday. Only two of Wyoming’s 23 counties didn’t report new cases.
The increase has followed Gordon’s decisions to gradually loosen public health orders and reopen schools while urging people to wear face masks, keep their distance from one another in public and wash their hands.
Wyoming’s economy won’t fully recover until the virus recedes, said Gordon.
“I do know that all of this is very fatiguing. But I have to say our current scenario is extremely concerning. Folks, this is a serious call to action,” Gordon said.
The actual number of people infected with the coronavirus in Wyoming is thought to be much higher than reported figures because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia or death.