Coronavirus Likely In Wyoming, State Preparing, Gordon Says

It appears likely that the Coronavirus will reach Wyoming eventually, so officials are making sure that the state is ready for that eventuality, Gov. Mark Gordon said Tuesday.

Annaliese Wiederspahn

March 03, 20203 min read

Gordon State of State two
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It appears likely that the Coronavirus will reach Wyoming eventually, so officials are making sure that the state is ready for that eventuality, Gov. Mark Gordon said Tuesday.

Gordon, in a news conference called to discuss the illness, said although no cases of Coronavirus — also called COVID-19 — have been reported in the state, officials have been working for weeks to prepare for its arrival.

“There are no reported cases in Wyoming at this time and the risk to our residents from the disease remains low,” he said. “It is becoming increasingly likely that COVID-19 will eventually spread to the state. The Department of Health and the Office of Homeland Security are coordinating state resources and planning efforts to ensure vital resources are protected should events cause a disruption.”

Gordon said officials with the state Department of Health and Office of Homeland Security have been working with their counterparts at the local level, along with private entities, to make sure all are ready should the illness surface.

“These planning efforts have been underway for weeks and will continue as the situation evolves,” he said.

Department of Health officials have been working with local hospitals to provide guidance in areas such as testing and determining risk factors for the illness. The department has also been involved in conducting assessments of hospitals around the state, he said.

The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory has also been working to be able to conduct tests for Coronavirus, Gordon said, and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, said testing could take place within a week.

Harrist and Gordon both noted that since little is known about the illness, it is hard to predict how it might affect the state.

“Right now, I could only say we’re not sure exactly what is going to happen with this virus,” Harrist said. “With this virus, it is very difficult to predict the extent of the transmission that will occur and how long that transmission will occur. We need to prepare for widespread community transmission, but … efforts in the U.S. and Wyoming are underway to try to prevent that as much as possible right now.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said the state has also been working local schools to advise principals, school nurses and custodians on how to prevent the spread of the illness and deal with an outbreak should one occur.

Coronavirus can cause respiratory problems, fever, cough and breathing difficulties. Since being first reported in China, it has spread quickly. More than 100 cases have been reported in 15 states, including Nebraska.

To prevent the spread of the illness in Wyoming, Gordon recommended residents follow the same advice given by the state Department of Health to prevent the spread of the flu: avoid contact with sick people, stay at home when sick, cover the nose and mouth when coughing and wash hands often and carefully. 

More recommendations can be obtained from the Department of Health website at Health.Wyo.Gov.

Gordon closed by saying there is no reason for panic.

“I want to assure the people of Wyoming that we are taking steps to be prepared,” he said. “There is no immediate cause to be alarmed.

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Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter