Coronavirus hospitalizations tick upward

CASPER — The number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Wyoming has steadily risen in recent days, as a recent spike in confirmed cases in the Equality State has continued into mid-July.

There are now 13 Wyomingites hospitalized from the virus. While still a relatively small number, it’s the highest such number in Wyoming since May 26. There were six hospitalizations on July 4, and there were only four in early June.

The severity of the hospitalizations appears to be relatively low: According to state data, only one ventilator is currently in use statewide, and 45 intensive care beds are being used (though that number is for all conditions, not just the coronavirus), out of 120 total beds available in Wyoming.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, said at a Wednesday press conference that the state still expects to see hospitalizations and deaths. She noted “really tough health care situations in states like Arizona and Texas,” where thousands have been hospitalized and access to hospital beds and ventilators is a mounting problem.

She added that health officials haven’t observed a pattern of more serious disease amid the recent surge in cases; a Uinta County health official said last month that the outbreak there had included more severe illness than previously.

The highest number of hospitalizations in Wyoming at any one time was 23 on April 23 and April 24.

As of Wednesday afternoon, officials had confirmed 1,404 cases of the novel coronavirus in Wyoming, a number that has grown significantly over the past month. Cases nationwide have begun to climb again after showing signs of improvement this spring.

Of the 13 hospitalizations, three are in Wyoming Medical Center, which has historically treated many of the state’s total coronavirus patients. Two more each are in Cheyenne Regional, Washakie Medical Center and Ivinson Memorial. Hospitals in Jackson, Powell, Lander and Gillette each have one patient.

A spokeswoman for Cheyenne Regional confirmed the facility had two COVID-19 patients, neither of whom are in the ICU or on ventilators. A spokeswoman for WMC also confirmed the three patients there but declined to comment further.

Eric Boley, the head of the Wyoming Hospital Association, said he was “concerned” about the uptick in cases but that he felt the state was in “a better place and more readily prepared to deal with COVID cases.”

“Hospitals and nursing homes are doing all they can to be prepared and to deliver the best care possible to those they see,” he said by email Wednesday. “Testing is still a big concern as supplies are in short supply. We are still encouraging people to follow guidance and wear facemasks in crowded places and to socially distance.”

In various parts of the nation, hospitalizations and positive cases have risen in recent weeks. In Arizona, for instance, more than 3,400 people were hospitalized with the virus, according to the Arizona Republic. Earlier this week, Texas reported having more than 8,000 people hospitalized, and NBC News reported that hospitalizations had risen in 23 states.