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Wyoming coronavirus cases now at 37 with 8 new cases Tuesday, including two in Natrona County
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Wyoming coronavirus cases now at 37 with 8 new cases Tuesday, including two in Natrona County

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COVID-19 Press Conference

Hailey Bloom, public information officer of the Casper-Natrona County Health Department, leads a news conference concerning the COVID-19 outbreak Friday in Casper.

Wyoming health officials identified eight new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 37. 

That total includes new cases announced Tuesday evening in Natrona, Sweetwater, Fremont, Carbon and Teton counties, according to local health officials and the Wyoming Department of Health. Another was announced earlier in Laramie County.

Sweetwater County's case was its first. That case involves a Green River man in his 40s. He is self-isolating at home, authorities there said in an announcement.

"We would like for this to be our one and only case, but we are aware this likely will not be the situation,” said Kristy Nielson, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County chief nursing officer. “We are taking precautions to minimize the spread; we ask the community to help us with this by following the advice we are providing.”

Meanwhile, officials announced a third case in Teton County, a third in Natrona County, an eighth in Cheyenne and an 11th and 12th in Fremont County.

All told, there are 37 cases identified in Wyoming.

Four of the announcements came within a span of a half hour Tuesday night, and two more — a fourth in Natrona County and a third in Carbon County — were announced an hour later.

No details about the two new Natrona County patients were immediately available.

Natrona County's second novel coronavirus patient, confirmed Monday night, likely contracted the virus after traveling internationally, officials said Tuesday afternoon.

There were no immediate details about the new Fremont County cases, the new Teton County case or the new Carbon County case.

Hailey Rodgers-Bloom, spokeswoman for the Casper-Natrona County Healthy Department, told media Tuesday that the second patient in the Casper area has been self-quarantining since they returned from their trip and that health officials don't believe there's an immediate danger of spread to the broader community.

The test for that Natrona County patient was taken by the health department and submitted to the state lab. The sample for the county's first patient was taken at a Wyoming Medical Center clinic.

The latest Cheyenne patient is in their 40s and has had contact with another confirmed patient, according to a city press release. Cheyenne's eight known cases are the state's second highest, surpassed by Fremont County's 12 patients.

Health experts say the actual number of patients is almost certainly higher due to the dearth of tests. Rodgers-Bloom said that 70 tests from Natrona County have returned negative. Two have been positive, and 30 more are still awaiting results.

Statewide, the state lab has processed 567 tests, with the vast majority returning negative. Commercial labs have tested scores more. New data from the state Department of Health shows roughly 45 percent of the state's confirmed cases are from "contact with a known case." More than 25 percent is from domestic travel, less than 5 percent is from international travel, and 25 percent are from unknown origins.

Roughly an equal amount of patients have pre-existing health conditions or are otherwise healthy. For a fifth of Wyoming's cases, it's unclear if they had previous medical conditions. Most had fever and cough.

Cases have been identified in Campbell, Carbon, Fremont, Laramie, Natrona, Park, Sheridan, Sweetwater and Teton counties.

In an effort to slow the spread of the disease and avoid overwhelming the medical system, Gov. Mark Gordon has ordered schools closed through early April. He's also required several types of businesses that cater to the pubic to close their doors for two weeks. That includes bars, gyms and museums. Restaurants, meanwhile, can only offer takeout and delivery.

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.

Natrona County residents who fear they have COVID-19 or another respiratory illness are encouraged to call Wyoming Medical Center's newest clinic, which was established specifically for this issue. The clinic will only test those patients who do not have the flu and who physicians believe may have COVID-19. The clinic, which accepts walk-ins but asks you to call ahead, can be reached at 307-233-0291. It's located at 245 S. Fenway St. in Casper.

The hospital has also launched a telehealth screening hotline. Patients who are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms such as fever, cough, nasal and chest congestion and sore throats can call the hotline, where they can speak with a registered nurse. The hotline number is 307-233-7288 and is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Patients who believe they're sick are asked not to go to the emergency room to avoid overwhelming the facility. They are asked to either call Wyoming Medical Center's clinic or the patients' normal health care providers. Only patients who are having trouble breathing should go to the ER.

The Casper-Natrona County Health Department has established a local hotline that potential patients can also call. People can also call the number for information about COVID-19. That number is 307-577-9892.

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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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