NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, Mar. 23, 2020

CRMC only conducting very limited testing for coronavirus

CHEYENNE (WNE) -– Cheyenne Regional Medical Center has adapted its COVID-19 testing procedures in light of a nationwide medical supply shortage.

To help reduce potential exposure and transmission of COVID-19 to staff and patients, Dr. Jessica Hughes, emergency department medical director for CRMC, is also asking people to stay home if they have mild flu-like symptoms and call their health care provider.

“Our priorities for testing currently include patients requiring hospitalization with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, patients that have chronic medical conditions or are immunocompromised and have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and any person, including health care personnel, that has had close contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient or has a history of travel from the high-risk areas,” she said in an email.

People can look at the Wyoming Department of Health website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the latest information on COVID-19 testing and when to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.

The CDC said emergency warning signs of COVID-19 are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain like chest pressure, confusion, inability to arouse, bluish lips or face and more. If people develop symptoms such as these, they should seek medical attention immediately.

Because COVID-19 has a high transmission rate, it’s important that patients enter through the main emergency department entrance and not walk through the hospital, she said.



Wyoming small businesses, nonprofits eligible for federal disaster loans

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Wyoming’s small businesses and nonprofits that are suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA announced Friday evening.

The announcement comes a day after Gov. Mark Gordon issued a closure order of theaters, bars, nightclubs, coffee shops, gyms, conference rooms and other public spaces, in order to protect the public from community spread of the disease.

“SBA has and always will be committed to helping (small businesses) start, grow, expand and recover,” SBA Wyoming District Office Public Affairs Specialist Jordan Belser told The Sheridan Press. 

Organizations that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the coronavirus since Jan. 31 may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, according to a press release from SBA. 

The loan process began with the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed by President Donald Trump on March 6. Gordon declared a state of emergency on March 13 and requested access to the loans on March 17.

Loan eligibility is based on the financial impact of COVID-19. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private nonprofit organizations. SBA loans have long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable for up to 30 years.

For more information and to apply, business owners can visit For assistance, Belser suggested they contact the Wyoming Small Business Development Center. 

Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 21.



Latest coronavirus casualty: public restrooms on national forests

JACKSON (WNE) — When times get tough, pee in the woods.

That’s not exactly how the old adage goes, but it’s another new coronavirus-era reality the public is facing.

The Bridger-Teton and Shoshone national forests announced Friday that they are indefinitely closing most of their public toilets due to worries about spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

The forests, which administer nearly 6 million acres of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, made the decision as a precaution to protect public health. Some guard stations and rental cabins will also be closed in the coming week.

“These actions have been taken based on the best available medical advice for cleaning per [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines and to promote social distancing,” Bridger-Teton officials said in a statement.

Some public toilets in the valley are being spared for now. The vault toilets at Emily’s Pond on the east shore of the Snake River were open and being used Saturday. In town, the Home Ranch welcome center bathrooms were still open.

The Bridger-Teton’s notice did not specify what toilets are being closed other than saying the “majority” were being locked until further notice. Typically, forest toilets are located at campgrounds or near trailheads or boat launches.

East of the Continental Divide on the Shoshone National Forest, “all” toilet facilities are being closed indefinitely.

“As we work through an unpredictable and rapidly changing situation, health and safety is our number one priority,” Shoshone officials said in a statement.


Sheridan speeder flees police, attempts to drive into law enforcement 

SHERIDAN (WNE) — A vehicle pursuit led to a crash and arrest on Coffeen Avenue Saturday morning.

The pursuit started when Sheridan Police Department officers attempted to pull over a 2007 Chrysler Sebring for driving twice the speed limit, according to a press release from Wyoming Highway Patrol. The driver fled.

WHP troopers joined the pursuit on Highway 87 and observed the fleeing driver attempt to hit other law enforcement with his car. Due to public safety concerns, law enforcement decided to attempt a tactical vehicle intervention maneuver to end the pursuit. The maneuver was attempted before the pursuit reached a busy intersection. The Sebring exited the roadway and overturned.

The driver of the vehicle, who was not wearing his seatbelt and received minor injuries in the crash, was taken into custody. 

He has been identified as 54-year-old Sheridan resident Johnny J. Johnson. He was charged with aggravated assault, driving while under the influence, fleeing to elude, reckless driving, speeding and other traffic-related offenses.

Due to the nature of the incident, Division of Criminal Investigation has been called in to conduct an external investigation.