By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily
LANDER — Ron Foote looks around and says he is now not only the owner, but occasionally the cook, the janitor, the care giver, and anything else he needs to be at his Showboat Retirement Center.
The Showboat has become Ground Zero in Wyoming’s struggle with the coronavirus pandemic, with eight of the state’s 10 cases occurring in that facility.
Foote was in Montana caring for his 90-year old mother when he got the word that one of his 27 residents tested positive for the coronavirus. He got back to Lander on Monday, one day after state officials tested other employees and residents for the illness.
Two key employees and five residents tested positive after the initial patient was diagnosed on March 13.
Showboat, which once was the Lander hospital, is on a total lockdown, according to Foote, with no visitors allowed.
He said he has no idea where the original infection came from, but he believes “it is everywhere.” He thinks once enough people get tested, a lot more cases will be announced.
The initial patient, a 68-year old man, is still hospitalized. A second patient, a 62-year old male, has also been hospitalized. The other three residents are still residing under quarantine in their rooms at the center and doing well, Foote said.
His manager of the facility, which has six employees, tested positive and is quarantined in his apartment on the premises. An assistant who also tested positive is also quarantined in an apartment on the grounds.
Foote has owned and operated the facility for 28 years and has not had any issues up to now.
He said there is usually a pretty free flow of visitors to the facility, with people just signing in at the front desk to visit their loved ones.
That policy has ended.