By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
More cases of coronavirus probably exist in the state than the 94 that have been confirmed, a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Health said Monday.
Kim Deti, speaking on the “Coronavirus town hall” broadcast on Townsquare Media’s “Wake Up Wyoming” radio program, said it is common for undiagnosed cases of illnesses to exist around the state. However, she added unlike other illnesses, coronavirus is a new disease, so people’s immune systems haven’t developed a method to fight it off.
“That’s what makes this different, it’s new,” Deti said. “There’s a higher potential for a quick and heavy spread of it across the country. Our bodies aren’t prepared to fight it, which could mean a lot of people sick at one time.”
Other guests during the town hall interviews included Gov. Mark Gordon and Laramie County School District No. 1 Superintendent Boyd Brown.
Host Glenn Woods kicked off the interview by asking Deti how she was holding up, now that the virus has infected at least 94 people in the state so far.
“It’s been very busy, but there are a lot of people involved in this whole situation who are working a lot harder than I am,” Deti responded.
The key for Deti and the staff at the DOH has been to ensure the credibility of the information they’re sharing with the media and public. She suggested anyone looking for up-to-date information about the virus and Wyoming should visit the Department of Health’s website or the state’s coronavirus-specific site.
She also discussed the difference between testing for the virus and collecting samples, which has caused some confusion among members of the public.
As of Monday morning, 1,389 tests had been completed at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory, one test had been completed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab and 544 tests were conducted by commercial labs. The latter are required to report positive test results to the Department of Health, but negative results aren’t reported consistently. Deti noted that the Department of Health began testing for the virus on March 5.
Last week, the department received around 2,700 sample collection kits to divvy up among the state’s 23 counties.
“We’re trying to order more supplies and look at other options,” Deti said. “But it’s a challenge because we’re in a pandemic. When you’re in this situation, everyone wants the same things at the same time across the country and maybe even the world.”