By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
As pandemic fears ease, public health rules are relaxed. But the easing of those restrictions comes at a cost – more COVID-19 cases in Wyoming.
Over the last few weeks, the number of cases in the state has risen slightly, from around 425 active cases in mid-March to slightly more than 500 this week.
While there has been a slight increase in active cases, the situation remains far better than what was seen in late November, when when an average more than 600 new lab-confirmed cases were being reported daily, and there were more than 10,000 active cases in the state.
Now, the number of new cases in the state is fluctuating depending on location.
For example, Laramie County Community College this week dropped its mask requirements because there are currently no known active cases of the virus among employees or students.
“As we enter the summer term at LCCC, and in response to the changes in the state health orders, we feel this is an ideal opportunity for us to make this transition for our employees and students,” Joe Schaffer, president of LCCC, said in a news release sent out this week.
However, in other parts of the state, pandemic-era regulations are being put back in place.
Cody Regional Health last week issued a release stating that its respiratory clinic hours will be reinstated due to the increase in active cases in Park County.
“According to our infection control and infection preventionist, Kyle Paquin, really it’s the tourist season beginning, and we expected that,” Ashley Trudo, spokesperson for the hospital, told Cowboy State Daily. She said that the respiratory clinic — a time specifically set aside to see only patients with respiratory illnesses — had been removed a few months ago, when COVID-19 dropped to just a few new cases each week.
But now that cases are going up again (Park County reports it has 64 active lab-confirmed cases right now), the hospital decided to reinstate those hours to save wear and tear on equipment and staff.
“Once you start seeing that uptick, that’s when materials sometimes can get put on hold, and then you can’t get ahold of them,” she said. “And so it’s not only protecting that Personal Protective Equipment, but the team themselves.
“To get in and out of there, and then to clean that room, it’s very, very tedious on the team and our cleaning staff,” she continued. “So for us, we’re just asking them to come between those hours — during the week, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and then on the weekend, 9 a.m. to 11a.m.”
She added that if patients with respiratory illnesses can’t come during those hours, they won’t be turned away, but it would be beneficial to staff if those patients could plan their visits during those specific hours.
“So if they’re not seeing huge symptoms, if they’re not seeing severe symptoms, if they could wait until the next day, and to come in during those hours,” she said.
Trudo reminded residents to heed the CDC’s advice.
“If you’re not vaccinated, keep a mask on,” she said. “Stay six feet apart. Try to avoid those heavy crowds. And if you’re outside, pretty much, don’t get too close – if you haven’t been vaccinated.”