NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Coronavirus testing now available

JACKSON (WNE) — If you live in Wyoming and think you have the coronavirus, you can now be tested in the state. However, health officials want patients to avoid exposing others in the process.

Up until Thursday, test kits were available only through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory now has the capability to test for COVID-19, as do some commercial labs.

What that means for the state’s capacity for testing should coronavirus spread within Wyoming remains unclear.

“It is difficult to offer a total testing capability per day for the state with this combination,” Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said in an email.

For a patient, the change doesn’t signal a huge shift in what to do should you suspect you have contracted the disease. Testing is still coordinated by providers through public health departments and the state health department. So far six people have been tested — five in the state and one sent to the CDC lab — and all were negative for the virus.

Patients will still talk first to their primary care provider or an emergency room doctor, who will help administer the test. Even if you feel you have the symptoms, however, don’t run out to your doctor.

“For now, staying at home and calling your provider before coming to the emergency room or doctor’s office is what will keep the community well,” St. John’s Health Chief Communications Officer Karen Connelly said.


Charity softball game to include Ford, maybe West

CODY (WNE) — A charity softball game featuring various celebrities, including actor Harrison Ford, will be played this June. Cody resident Kanye West is reportedly interested in the event as well.

The first annual “Celebrities Against Cancer” Charity Softball Game will benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Big Horn Basin Regional Cancer Center. The game will be held at the Milward Simpson Legion Baseball Field on June 13. The event will be preceded by “Dinner on the Diamond” on June 12, with celebrities, professional athletes and cancer survivors as speakers.

Harrison Ford, a part-time Jackson-area resident, is well-known for his roles in franchise film series “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” as well as other films such as “Blade Runner,” “Witness,” “The Fugitive,” “42” and, most recently, an adaptation of “The Call of the Wild.” 

Many of the athletes slated to play have regional roots. Chris Prosinksi, a graduate from Buffalo High School, started his football career at the University of Wyoming before playing for NFL teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears, and is currently a free agent. Other confirmed players include former Denver Broncos football players Byron Chamberlain and Spencer Larsen. Country music singer Bobby Chitwood will perform a concert after the softball game.


Woman accused of taking items from cars being serviced

GILLETTE (WNE) — A woman originally charged with four counts of forgery for stealing from vehicles while they were being worked on has pleaded not guilty to three other counts of forgery as well as 13 counts of theft related to the acts.

Brittany Seymour, 25, also faces three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one new count of unlawful use of a credit card in addition to two earlier charges for using a credit card without permission.

In all, Seymour is accused of taking items from 16 different people from their vehicles which were being serviced at Thunder Basin Ford last fall. Among the items taken were checks, credit cards, wallets and prescription pills.

The investigation started after a couple reported to police Oct. 18 that a $200 check had been forged and cashed on their account, with Seymour’s name as the recipient with a memo for “cleaning service.”

Police tracked the check to Campco, where Seymour used it to open a bank account. Video from the credit union showed Seymour making the transaction, according to court documents.

Seymour told police that she’d taken other checks and items from other cars over the past two months. A subsequent search of her Jeep and home turned up 14 personal checks, 17 carbon copies of checks, 10 credit cards, one driver’s license and two wallets, according to court documents.

Police calculated that there was $1,279.27 in checks cashed and $1,155 in credit card fraud.

Seymour has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.


Trees submerged to help reservoir

POWELL (WNE) — A batch of old Cody area Christmas trees are getting a second life at a public reservoir south of Emblem. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cody Field Office and Wyoming Game and Fish Department partnered on the project in February to improve fish habitat at the Mayland Reservoir. 

With temperatures hovering near zero, the group hauled dozens of Christmas trees across the frozen surface, placing them in strategic locations. Groups of trees — collected through a recycling program sponsored by the City of Cody and Cody Rotary Club — were then tethered to concrete blocks which will sink, with the trees in tow, once the ice melts this spring. 

“These sunken trees will provide important cover for fish and much-needed nutrition as the plant tissue decomposes, spurring the growth of algae which forms the foundation for the food chain,” BLM officials said in a news release. The agency noted that Christmas trees have long been recycled in water bodies that lack structure and changes in depth. 

“It’s good to get some complexity to the habitat and it also helps attract fish,” said Joe Skorupski, a fisheries biologist with the Game and Fish. “That’s really the goal — to bring fish to these areas so people have good opportunities to find fish close to shore.” 

The fish species present in Mayland Reservoir are largemouth bass, green sunfish/ bluegill hybrid, yellow perch and tiger muskie. All are attracted to submerged trees, which concentrate them for angling, the BLM said.