In the wake of Wyoming’s 11th death related to the coronavirus, Gov. Mark Gordon on Wednesday urged Wyoming residents to abide by the safety guidelines that have been handed down by state health officials to stop the spread of the illness.
Gordon, speaking during a news conference, noted that 13 new coronavirus cases were reported Wednesday and urged people to continue wearing face masks and social distancing as they return to work or begin visiting businesses that had been closed.
“If we become complacent, we could see more people getting sick and we would hate that,” he said. “We don’t want to lose the ground we’ve gained.”
The state’s restaurants, bars, gyms, churches and other institutions are reopening after being closed for weeks by statewide health orders. A requirement for many businesses to reopen is that their staff wear face masks.
However, Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, urged everyone to wear face masks when in public and to follow other precautions that have been in place since the illness first reached Wyoming in March.
“We would ask everyone to make smart decisions,” she said. “Let’s all do our part to keep Wyoming on the right path.”
The comments came as Wyoming’s confirmed coronavirus case count grew by 13 to total 596 on Wednesday, with new cases reported in Campbell, Carbon, Fremont, Hot Springs, Natrona, Park and Sweetwater counties. For Park County, the single new case was the first new one detected in almost two months.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Fremont County had 209 cases; Laramie County had 121; Teton County had 69; Natrona County had 53; Campbell and Sweetwater counties had 17; Converse had 14; Washakie had 13; Johnson and Sheridan counties had 12; Lincoln had 11; Albany had 10; Carbon had nine; Uinta had eight; Hot Springs had six; Crook had five; Goshen had four; Big Horn and Park had two, and Niobrara and Sublette counties both had one case.
The number of people declared recovered on Wednesday, six, brought the total number of recoveries since mid-March to 534, including 394 among patients with confirmed coronavirus cases and 140 among those with “probable” cases.
Probable cases are defined as those where a patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness.
The number of probable cases stood at 191 on Wednesday.
The number of active cases in Wyoming as determined using Department of Health figures stood at 244, including 193 patients with confirmed cases and 51 with probable cases.
The number of active cases is determined by adding the number of confirmed and probable cases — 787 — subtracting the total number of recoveries and then subtracting the number of deaths.
In other developments:
Day care: Staff members and children at a Casper day care center are being tested for coronavirus following confirmation of a coronavirus case involving a child at the center. The Casper-Natrona County Health Department announced Wednesday that the child was tested after a parent tested positive. The department also advised all 58 staff members and children at the center to self-quarantine for 14 days. The day care center has been closed until it can be cleaned and sanitized.
Test schedule: The state’s nursing homes and assisted living centers are being asked to test their staff and residents more often for coronavirus. Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said the testing will help state and local officials stave off outbreaks among older residents of the centers. Under new state rules, facilities with no coronavirus cases must test 20% of their staff and residents every other week, while facilities with confirmed coronavirus cases must test all staff and residents every week.
Legislation signed: Gov. Mark Gordon on Wednesday signed the three bills approved by the Legislature during its special session May 15-16. The bills authorize Gordon to spend $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds and set up relief programs for Wyoming’s businesses and renters. Gordon announced he did veto one line in one of the bills so businesses that lost less than $20,000 because of the coronavirus pandemic may apply for assistance under one of the relief programs.
Fair reduced: Park County’s fair will be significantly scaled back, the fair’s board has decided. The board decided Tuesday the fair will consist of two days of market shows, a junior livestock sale and perhaps an open air concert. Features such as carnival rides, mud wrestling and the annual demolition derby usually offered during the five-day fair will not be seen this year. “This is the best we can do with how the situation is now,” said Teresa Merager, a board member for the Park County Fair Advisory Board.
Drive-in graduation: Kemmerer High School graduates are joining others in the state in taking part in graduation in their cars. Seniors in their cars will gather at the high school’s parking lot on May 30 for the commencement exercises. Then they will cruise down Main Street in a parade that will end at the school’s football field, where they will receive their diplomas.
Carbon cases: Carbon County health officials are investigating more than 100 possible coronavirus cases in the county. Jacquelin Wells, a spokeswoman for the Carbon County Incident Management Team, said the department is looking into 115 COVID-like illnesses. She added of the 115 patients involved, 67 have recovered.