ROCK SPRINGS – As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, officials are concerned about direct and indirect consequences. To reduce the spread, the public is reminded of the importance and impact of simple steps like wearing facial coverings and maintaining distances.
On June 25, Wyoming had 36 new laboratory-confirmed positive cases, the largest single-day total the state has seen since the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in March. Uinta, Fremont and Teton counties have the highest rate of confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. When it comes to confirmed cases, the top counties are, as of press time, Fremont with 312; Laramie with 149, Uinta with 130, Natrona with 93, Teton with 86 and Sweetwater with 73.
The trend is not limited to Wyoming as the United States reported about 40,000 new cases on Thursday, an all-time high, The Associated Press reported. The count of new confirmed infections, provided by Johns Hopkins University, eclipsed the previous high of 36,400, set on April 24, during one of the deadliest stretches. Newly reported cases per day have risen on average about 60 percent over the past two weeks, according to an AP analysis.
Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are running at about 600 per day, down from a peak of around 2,200 in mid-April. Some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level, because of advances in treatment and prevention and because younger adults are more likely than older ones to survive.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported this week that Utah health officials are warning of a complete shutdown if the surge in coronavirus cases continues. As Sweetwater County cases continue rise at a rapid pace, knowing the stress Utah hospitals face is a growing concern, said Deb Sutton, spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.
“Like hospitals across the nation, MHSC is prepared to receive higher volumes of patients. As Utah hospitals see a surge in coronavirus activity, it’s important for Sweetwater Memorial to care for patients locally.
“It’s always a good idea to take precautions when participating in outdoor activities. It’s especially important now. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Wear a face mask and maintain a 6-foot distance in public places. It’s everyone’s responsibility to slow the spread.”
Back in late March, Rock Springs Fire Chief Jim Wamsley wrote an editorial as part of his duties with the Sweetwater County COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center. He warned if coronavirus numbers reach tipping-point levels, the Sweetwater Memorial would have to rely less on the “air-calvary” from the University of Utah.
“If physical distancing is not observed brilliantly … resources will be overwhelmed and a triage system will be instituted to direct the least serious patients to stay home and receive minimal support from physicians, the middle category who are more sick will be admitted to the hospital, and the most severely affected will be sent home to receive instructions via telemedicine for palliative care so that their last days can be as comfortable as possible,” Wamsley said.
“The fast track to a higher level of care is limited to only the most life/limb-threatening conditions on that day. No COVID-19 patients will be flown or transported to the U; serious conditions and illnesses that we have depended on the U to solve will be solved here in our local community at our local hospital. Who will also have their own ever-increasing COVID-19 curve and regular patient load.”
Utah has the goal to get down to an average of 200 new cases per day by July 1, but this week it was averaging more than twice that many.
“We are quickly getting to a point where the only viable option to manage spread and deaths will be a complete shutdown,” Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist, said in a memo distributed to state and local health officials.
On Friday, the Wyoming Department of Health noted the statewide dashboard of recovery indicators remains unchanged from last week, with the “new cases” continuing to be rated “red” or “concerning.”
The only area that is rated as “green” or “improving” is “the percent of all tests that are positive.” The goal is to see the number of positive results decrease even as the number of test performed increases.
The other indicators – percentage of cases attributed to community spread, total hospital bed availability and total ICU bed availability – remain “yellow” or stabilizing. For example, as of Friday afternoon, Wyoming hospitals reported seven current COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Twenty people in Wyoming have died from COVID-19 related illnesses, according to the Department of Health.