By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
With an average of more than 200 new coronavirus cases being reported daily in Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Health are stepping up the state’s COVID-19 testing at nursing homes and boosting its contact tracing efforts.
Wyoming has averaged more than 200 new cases of the coronavirus per day over the past 14 days, and 109 Wyomingites with the virus were hospitalized around the state as of Thursday.
“This surge in cases in our communities is directly impacting Wyoming’s healthcare system, our businesses and industries, and straining our healthcare workforce,” Gordon said. “This is the time to recognize that our actions impact others, their lives and livelihoods. All of us have a role to play in ensuring that our hospitals can continue to care for all patients, not just those suffering from COVID-19.”
To protect vulnerable citizens, the state will continue to provide enhanced testing at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, including testing all residents and staff at facilities where COVID-19 outbreaks or clusters have been detected.
At other facilities that are not experiencing outbreaks, the state will continue its surveillance testing program, where a percentage of residents are tested regularly.
WDH is also supplementing its contact tracing efforts by bringing on a Wyoming-based company, Waller Hall Research, to provide assistance.
The Wyoming National Guard will step down next week from its mission of helping with contact tracing. Contact tracing is one of the state’s most effective strategies in isolating the virus and preventing its spread Gordon said.
“I want to thank our citizen soldiers for being ready and willing to serve their communities when counties requested assistance with this vital service,” Gordon said.
The state is supporting health facilities, correctional facilities, counties and other entities through testing available at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory and through the 175,000 tests Wyoming purchased with CARES Act funds.
A free, at-home saliva testing program remains available to residents, and WDH is launching a program to support businesses and employers across the state with free testing as well.
Wyoming’s school surveillance testing program is also underway, with 27 districts currently participating.
Gordon said the state is also exploring a program that would reward businesses that voluntarily make changes to their operations to enhance the safety of employees, customers, and the general public.