The Irma Hotel is an icon in Cody – the property was built by Buffalo Bill himself in 1902, before the town was even incorporated.
It houses a cherrywood bar that was a gift to Colonel Cody from Queen Victoria, and is a must-see on the list of tourist attractions in a town known for its western history.
But this week the restaurant and bar has been closed down, because of a cluster of positive cases discovered in a routine test of employees – although most of them were asymptomatic.
And Bill Crampton, the Public Health Nursing Supervisor in Park County, says the restaurant is one of several in the county that closed its doors voluntarily this summer due to the virus.
“The Irma would be the… 1,2,3… fourth, I think, that chose to shut down,” he estimates. “Everyone else has been, you know, just motoring along, some of them wearing masks, and some of them not.”
Park County has had a surge in positive cases in the last week – and medical services have responded by making sure that people know that tests are available. Cody Regional Health released a statement this week reminding residents that they are still offering drive-through testing two days a week.
In addition to the increase in positive tests, the County has been relying on wastewater based epidemiology to monitor the presence of the virus.
According to the Park County Health Officer, the percentage of people using the Cody municipal sewage system that are shedding the COVID virus has increased from 1.7% to 2.0% – that’s about 500 people estimated to be carrying the coronavirus, including people who have recently recovered.
And Crampton says the increase is having an impact on their available resources.
“The contact tracers are starting to get overwhelmed – the state contact tracers are starting to get overwhelmed.”
But Crampton adds that the surge is happening amid a push by residents to relax measures – in fact, Governor Mark Gordon this week announced relaxed restrictions on spaced-out seating in restaurants, and Crampton notes that a movement by “anti-maskers” is gaining momentum across the state.
But health officials continue to urge caution and remind people to take the best care to avoid spreading the virus to those who are at the most risk.