By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Members of the Wyoming National Guard will be assisting the Wyoming Department of Health in its efforts to collect information about people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday that in the face of recent rapid increases in coronavirus cases in the state, the Guard was asked to help the Health Department with “contact tracing” for the next 30 days.
Rusty Ridley, a spokesman for the Wyoming Military Department, said 20 members of the Wyoming Army National Guard and Wyoming Air National Guard would help interview people who have been diagnosed with a confirmed case of coronavirus to see who they may have been in contact with.
“Their primary responsibility will be calling Wyoming residents who test positive for COVID,” he said. “They’ll be employed the same way as the team at the Health Department, it’s just a matter of personnel and providing assistance.”
In the last 10 days, the number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming has gone up by more than 360.
The sudden increase has left the state Health Department and county health departments needing help as they try to determine who coronavirus patients have been in contact with, said Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department.
“The temporary additional support for us and for our local county partners will help and is welcome,” she said.
Ridley said the Guard members would be issued laptop computers by the Health Department to record the information they collect. That information will be used to update the data the Health Department keeps on the spread of the coronavirus, he said.
He added that the Guard members would be working at different locations around the state to collect the information.
Deti said the 30-day length of the Guard’s assistance can be extended if needed.
“But, at this time, we aren’t sure that will be necessary,” she said. “Again, this is intended as some temporary help.”