The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) announced Thursday that they would be limiting the coronavirus testing to be sent to the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory (WPHL) in Cheyenne to patients and situations deemed to be a priority, according to a release from WDH late Thursday afternoon.
“It’s been clear for some time that materials needed for sample collection and testing are in very short supply in Wyoming and across the nation,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, in the release. “We’ve done well so far at our lab, but our concern about supplies of certain materials we need for testing has grown.”
Harrist, who oversees the lab, said that they will no longer be accepting samples from health practitioners for patients who do not fall within the department’s priority categories, which are as follows, per WDH:
COVID-19 Testing Priority Patients
- Hospitalized patients (including hospitalized patients being tested prior to discharge to a long-term care facility)
- Patients or staff in communal settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities or shelters
- Healthcare workers and first responders who provide direct patient care
- People over 65 or with underlying health conditions that put them at risk for severe illness
- People who have close contact with people who are over 65 or who have underlying health conditions
- Pregnant women
WDH has further asked that Wyoming healthcare providers send samples for other patients that do not meet the above priority guidelines to private laboratories.
“We are hopeful the supply situation will improve,” Harrist said, “but in the meantime, we must ensure timely testing is available when it can make the most difference to help meet our most critical needs.”
Harrist acknowledged that not everyone who may have COVID-19 will be able to be tested.
“We believe most people who become ill with this virus will experience mild illness and will be able to recover at home,” she said.
Prior to this change in policy, WPHL had been processing between 100 and 200 per day,” WDH Public Information Officer Kim Deti said, adding that she does not have an estimate on the new lower number. The state lab had been completing tests within a day of receipt, she said, but she has no idea what the turnaround times are for private labs.
As of Thursday at 4:20 p.m., 150 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Wyoming, with 31 recoveries and no deaths.
As of this same time, WPHL has processed 1,837 tests, including 170 from Campbell County, with 16 results still pending. Six people have tested positive in Campbell County, and one patient has since fully recovered.
More information about COVID-19 and testing priorities can be found at WDH.