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Wyoming coronavirus cases jump by 17, largest increase in nearly three weeks
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Wyoming coronavirus cases jump by 17, largest increase in nearly three weeks

Virus Outbreak Wyoming

Testing for novel coronavirus is ongoing at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory in Cheyenne.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wyoming rose by 17 on Friday, an increase bolstered by a spike of cases in Fremont County after several days of relatively stable growth statewide.

Health officials have now confirmed 349 cases in Wyoming. Thirteen new cases were reported in Fremont County. Officials said clinics there and on the Wind River Reservation have increased testing and contact tracing connected to people who were known to have tested positive for COVID-19.

There were “several folks in our transient population within this increase, and temporary shelters are being put together this morning until a permanent solution has been identified,” Fremont County Incident Management Team spokesman Mike Jones said in an email Friday.

A Wyoming Health Department spokeswoman said the majority of Fremont County’s new cases are linked and that they come from a group known to congregate in public areas.

Meanwhile, two new cases were confirmed in Laramie County and one each in Teton and Crook counties.

The spike comes a day after Gov. Mark Gordon indicated that Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, was preparing to unveil modified health orders to begin returning parts of the state to something resembling normalcy. Both he and Harrist stressed that any relaxed order can be made more stringent based on each county’s needs.

Both officials also stressed that the modified orders would be rolled out slowly and would be monitored to see if cases spiked alongside the easing.

Four of the state’s seven deaths have been Fremont County residents; three of those were from the same family. The other three deaths are residents of Teton, Johnson and Laramie counties.

Thirty-two new confirmed coronavirus recoveries were also announced, alongside 10 probable recoveries — the largest single-day increase in confirmed recoveries.

A patient is considered fully recovered “when there is resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and there is improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath) for 72 hours AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared,” according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

Another three new probable cases were also reported Friday. Probable cases are defined by officials as close contacts of lab-confirmed cases with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

There are now 473 cases — 349 confirmed and 124 probable — and 321 recoveries — 235 confirmed and 86 probable — recorded in the state.

The percentage of known coronavirus patients in Wyoming who have fully recovered continues to grow. For the first time, more than two-thirds of confirmed patients have recovered, a percentage that grows to nearly 68 percent when factoring in probable figures.

Still, officials caution that the reported disease numbers are low, even with the addition of probable cases. Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell said the decreased rate of new cases is “falsely low.”

On April 2, the Wyoming Department of Health began restricting testing to six priority categories; potential patients who don’t fall in one of those categories now must be tested by private laboratories. However, the department announced Thursday that it would be able to resume testing patients outside of those six categories, although priority patients’ samples will remain at the front of the line.

Patients have tested positive for the coronavirus in 21 of Wyoming’s 23 counties. Only Platte and Weston counties are without confirmed cases. Wyoming has the lowest recorded number of coronavirus deaths of any state. Alaska has the second fewest deaths related to the virus, with nine, according to the New York Times and state health departments.

About 15 percent of Wyoming’s cases required a hospital stay. In 9 percent of the cases, health officials don’t know if the patient was hospitalized.

In 46 percent of the cases, the patient came in contact with a known case. In another 17 percent of the cases, the patient had traveled either domestically or internationally. Community spread has been attributed to 14 percent of the cases. In about 15 percent of Wyoming’s cases, health officials don’t how the person was exposed to the virus.

The state’s per capita case ranking has fallen in recent weeks; Wyoming now has fewer cases per 100,000 people than all but six other states, according to the Times. At one point, the state ranked in the low thirties.

Cases in Wyoming by county (probable in parentheses)

Albany: 6

Big Horn: 1 (1)

Campbell: 14 (4)

Carbon: 4

Converse: 10 (6)

Crook: 4 (1)

Fremont: 53 (6)

Goshen: 3 (1)

Hot Springs: 1 (2)

Johnson: 11 (4)

Laramie: 81 (36)

Lincoln: 6 (3)

Natrona: 39 (10)

Niobrara: 1 (1)

Park: 1

Platte: 0

Sheridan: 12 (4)

Sublette: 1 (2)

Sweetwater: 10 (6)

Teton: 63 (30)

Uinta: 6 (1)

Washakie: 5 (3)

Weston: 0

Deaths in Wyoming by county

Fremont: 4

Johnson: 1

Teton: 1

Rate of spread

This graph shows the rate at which confirmed and probable cases in Wyoming have been announced, as well as the number of patients who have fully recovered.

Keep in mind, however, that state and medical officials say the true number of COVID-19 cases is surely higher than the official numbers due to testing limitations.

Testing statistics

The Wyoming Department of Health has published the following data:

As of Friday, there have been 8,045 tests performed for COVID-19 in Wyoming.

  • Wyoming Public Health Laboratory: 3,962
  • Commercial labs: 4,082
  • CDC: 1

National cases

There have been more than 885,000 cases nationally, with about 45,000 deaths, according to the New York Times’ running count.

Know the symptoms

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is a respiratory illness. Its symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath. Symptoms appear within two weeks. If you have contact with a person who has COVID-19, you should self-isolate for 14 days.

Follow the Wyoming Health Department’s tips

Stay home when sick and avoid contact with other people unless you need medical attention.

Follow advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what to do if you think you may be sick.

Follow current public health orders.

Follow commonsense steps such as washing your hands often and well, covering your coughs and sneezes, and cleaning and disinfecting.

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other healthcare facilities should closely follow guidelines for infection control and prevention.

Older people and those with health conditions that mean they have a higher chance of getting seriously ill should avoid close-contact situations.

Concerned about COVID-19?

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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