Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of COVID-19 cases in Laramie County and statewide as of its original publication date. The error was due to misinformation being reported about COVID-19 cases from different sources. We apologize for the error and going forward we will only be reporting cases confirmed from the state and local health departments.
CHEYENNE – Laramie County had three confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of Wednesday afternoon. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases to 17 in Wyoming.
The latest positive case of COVID-19 is the first of an adult military member assigned to F.E. Warren Air Force Base, according to a release sent out by the base shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. This marks the third confirmed case in Cheyenne.
The release stated the military member had just returned from out of state. To limit exposure to others, the individual followed all prescribed precautions, self-isolated and sought out medical attention in the local area immediately upon their return. The member never came onto the base.
To mitigate and manage the risks associated with COVID-19, F.E. Warren AFB is implementing proactive measures to reduce the spread of the virus. These measures are helping to keep the airmen and their families healthy and safe, the release also said.
“The safety and security of the men and women of F.E. Warren AFB remains our top priority,” Col Peter M. Bonetti, 90th Missile Wing commander, said in the release. “I can assure you that our operations remain unaffected. We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to actively combat the spread of COVID-19.”
(For local information regarding F.E. Warren Air Force Base, please visit the base website at www.warren.af.mil/FEW-COVID-19-INFO/.)
Late Wednesday night, state health officials confirmed the first case in Teton County in a 60-year-old male living in the county. He reportedly had flu-like symptoms, and was evaluated via a telehealth visit before being tested, according to a news release from St. John’s Health. He is currently self-containing at his home and is being monitored by health officials, the release said.
Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said the first confirmed case, identified Tuesday afternoon, is an older Cheyenne resident who had recently traveled to Weld County, Colorado. He isn’t hospitalized, according to the Wyoming Department of Health, and is isolating with his female spouse at home. The second case is an adult female, also in Cheyenne, who was identified by commercial reference laboratory testing and is now isolating at home.
In a tweet sent out Tuesday evening, Stitches Acute Care Center owner Amy Surdam said the second case is a 49-year-old healthy female.
Tuesday evening, state health officials also identified new cases involving an adult female in Park County, and an adult male and adult female in Sheridan County, bringing the state’s total at that time to 15 cases. The two new Sheridan County cases are close contacts of two previously identified cases from the county, but there was no additional information involving the new Park County and Laramie County cases, according to a release from the Wyoming Department of Health.
The largest cluster of COVID-19 cases in Wyoming is still located in Fremont County, which accounts for eight of the 17. The new Fremont County cases announced late Monday night are connected to the original Fremont County case of an older hospitalized man who’s a resident of the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander.
The city of Cheyenne launched a website, www.cheyennecity.org/COVID-19, to keep the community updated on the latest COVID-19 information.
“We hope the public utilizes this webpage as a tool for information and how local agencies are adapting to provide continued services to our residents,” Orr said in a news release. “During this time, we ask everyone to follow the guidance from our medical officials and continue to self-quarantine. We are in this together, and we will get through this together.”
She added that she was made aware that local restaurants and bars were packed for St. Patrick’s Day with people primarily from Colorado. While not in favor of a mandated ban, she is asking local restaurants and bars to participate in a voluntary restriction that would limit their occupancy to 50% and to close at 10 p.m.
This way, there isn’t “spring break 2.0” from the city’s Colorado friends coming to Cheyenne to partake in food and beverages, Orr said.
The city is also closing city hall to the public, and department information can be accessed online. Orr said the city has a fantastic IT department, and city employees will be working remotely from home. She added that the city is still operating normally and conducting business inspections with necessary precautions.
The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory has tested 181 people for COVID-19, private labs have reportedly sent 11 tests to the lab and one test was reported from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according the state health department’s website.
Kathy Emmons, executive director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, said the biggest change from the last couple of days is that the county has set up an emergency operations center, which is a joint effort with the Cheyenne-Laramie County Emergency Management Agency.
The whole purpose of the center is so organizations can work collaboratively together, including local elected officials at the city and county level, Emmons said.
The health department is continuing to work with local health care providers and is trying to get the large-scale community testing site set up. Emmons said the challenge with that continues to be getting the supplies to do the testing.
Despite this, there are local clinics that are doing testing, Emmons said. She added that the health department is keeping good information about the virus on its Facebook page and website.
To be tested for the virus at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, a person must be at risk of hospitalization because supplies are limited, said Tracy Garcia, CRMC’s chief nursing officer. Nationwide, there is a medical supply shortage.
Other health care providers that are also providing COVID-19 testing include Stitches Acute Care Center, Willow Creek Family Medicine and Dr. Carol Fischer Family Medicine. It’s at the health care provider’s discretion to decide when to perform a COVID-19 test, and the CDC has issued guidelines for who should be tested.
With the new confirmed cases in the county, CRMC spokeswoman Kathy Baker said nothing has changed in how the hospital is treating potential COVID-19 patients at this time. However, she said this is an evolving situation, so things could change at any time.
The hospital has implemented mandatory visitor restrictions that include screening visitors for a fever or cough. Visitors are also getting stickers that state that they’ve been screened for entry, and the date and time of entry.
CRMC has also set up an incident command center to help strategize, manage and get information in one central area. The center is adaptable, and has been set up longitudinally to combat the virus for the long haul, CRMC CEO and President Tim Thornell said.