While the number of reported cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to grow around the world, the current risk of an outbreak still remains low in the state of Wyoming, according to a Feb. 21 release from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
Regardless, WDH has a plan in place should infections occur, said WDH Public Information Officer Kim Deti.
“We have various potential plans on our options including quarantine to respond to possible cases,” Deti wrote in an email to County 17 Thursday morning. “Exactly what we will recommend will depend on the exact situation.”
There is no particular reason for anyone in Wyoming to worry about the patients reported in Omaha, Deti added.
“They are isolated,” she said. “The facility treating them is part of the whole public health response across the country, led by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). So, yes, information is being shared.”
And though no cases have yet been reported in the Cowboy State, Deti said that they are following CDC protocol and have communicated with healthcare providers about what they should do with potential patients should they arise.
“We want people to know the risk in Wyoming remains low at this time, but our expectations about what may happen down the road are changing as we see the disease spreads around the world,” she said. “We also want people to know that new diseases warrant special attention as we try to slow their spread. But this is not an exotic disease with strange symptoms. The symptoms are very consistent with other familiar respiratory diseases such as influenza and colds.”
Likewise, Gov. Mark Gordon is also paying attention to reports of coronavirus.
“Our office has been coordinating closely with the Department of Health and other state agencies to monitor this situation,” he said in a release. “It is also the height of flu season and I want to urge people to be doubly diligent in taking common-sense precautions to protect themselves from illness.”
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold in people and others that circulate among animals. Symptoms range from mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.
“Because COVID-19 is a new virus and because it is spreading, it warrants special concern,” Harrist stated in a release. “Those conditions also likely fuel rumors. We’ve heard a few and that’s why we are continuing to provide credible information for Wyoming residents.”
Harrist also noted that in Wyoming, COVID-19 tests are currently performed at the CDC in Atlanta, and testing can only be arranged through WDH.
“We also want to remind people that, together with the CDC, we will be the best source of credible information for Wyoming residents,” Deti noted.
Travel restrictions are currently in place within the US, forbidding foreign nationals from entering the United States from China. Americans returning from the most affected area of China or from anywhere in China with symptoms are being quarantined outside of Wyoming.
For more information about coronavirus disease 2019 and Wyoming, visit: https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus/.