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Wyoming Emergency Care Owners Urge Social Distancing

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We have another positive in Laramie County. Please stay home.

Posted by Stitches Acute Care Center on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The owners of a Cheyenne acute care clinic discussed the lack of available coronavirus tests, the uptick in clients and why people should continue practicing social distancing during a radio program Wednesday.

Dr. Dan Surdam and Amy Surdam own three Stitches Acute Care Center clinics, with locations in Cheyenne, Laramie and Wellington, Colorado. 

On Tuesday evening, Amy Surdam announced on her Twitter account that a second person in Laramie County, a 49-year-old woman, tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

She posted a short video on the Stitches Facebook page where she told viewers that the patient was tested in her car and the employees wore proper equipment when testing her. The woman otherwise appeared healthy. 

“It seems like such an overwhelming time, because none of us have ever lived through anything like this,” Amy Sudam said in the video. “But you can do your part right now by staying at home. You shouldn’t be interacting with other people. Stay healthy and wash your hands.” 

Amy Surdam also announced on the clinic’s Facebook page that there was now a delay on test results due to the increased number of people being tested. Patients who have been tested for the virus at Stitches won’t receive their results for a certain period of time, but the Surdams couldn’t say when. 

During their appearance on the KFBC radio program “Cheyenne Today,” the Surdams noted that they began preparing for the virus outbreak last week when there were only 700 cases in the United States. The Stitches staff began to separate people with fevers from those with only mild cold or flu symptoms. 

The Cheyenne location has seen a major increase in foot traffic, but Amy Surdam said that with the University of Wyoming’s closure, the Laramie Stitches crew did not experience such increases. 

The Wellington location has also seen somewhat of an increase in patients, but ultimately, the Stitches staff have been putting most of their resources into telemedicine. 

The Surdams encouraged anyone showing only mild symptoms of the virus, such as a runny nose or a cough, to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Amy Surdam also defended her announcement of the second coronavirus case in Laramie County on Twitter, stating she felt it was prudent to get the information out into the world as quickly as possible. 

“This wasn’t someone who was critically ill, she was someone we sent home after testing,” Amy Surdam said. “This was a way to increase urgency. We need to take this seriously and stay home as much as possible.” 

Wyoming Ranked ‘Least Aggressive’ In Coronavirus Fight by Finance Site

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Coronavirus Wyoming
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Source: WalletHub

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Personal finance website WalletHub ranked Wyoming as 51st among the states and Washington, D.C., for aggressive measures taken to slow the spread of coronavirus.

However, a large part of that ranking is based on economic factors, such as the number of Wyoming residents employed in the hospitality industry, and restrictions imposed by the state on its businesses.

WalletHub said its rankings are based on three elements: prevention and containment, risk factors and infrastructure and economic impact of the illness.

Wyoming ranked 49th for prevention and containment, which was measured using items such as whether the state took action to ban large gatherings, restrict travel, activate the National Guard, close schools or recommend statewide curfews.

Gov. Mark Gordon has left all closure and restriction decisions in the hands of officials at the local level.

Wyoming did better with the “risk factors and infrastructure” section, placing 21st.

That ranking was determined using items such as the state’s death rate from influenza and pneumonia, the infectious disease incidence rate, the poverty rate, population density, share of uninsured population, hospital beds per capita and the share of elderly population.

In the area of economic impact, Wyoming ranked 48th.

Part of that ranking is determined by how much the hospitality industry contributes to the state’s gross domestic product and the number of employees in the hospitality industry. 

The tourism industry is Wyoming’s second largest.

The ranking also takes into account the number of people working for small businesses and whether state legislatures have adopted budget legislation in response to the spread of coronavirus.

Wyoming’s Legislature adjourned before the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the state.

Officials at the state Health Department declined to comment on the ranking.

City of Cheyenne Reports Third Case of Coronavirus

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The City of Cheyenne released the following statement at 12:39pm on Wednesday, March 18:

Wednesday morning, a third individual tested positive for COVID-19 in Cheyenne. The Cheyenne Laramie County Health Department, Emergency Mangement, and all elected officials in the city and county are working together collaboratively to ensure the safety of public health. More information regarding potential closures in the community will be shared as soon as they are available.

Gordon Endorses Trump’s Coronavirus Plan

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Gov. Mark Gordon on Wednesday endorsed the recommendations issued by President Donald Trump to slow the spread of the coronavirus within 15 days.

Gordon, in a statement, urged Wyoming residents to follow the recommendations issued by the president, which include avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, avoiding eating or drinking in restaurants or bars and traveling only when necessary.

“Where counties find it appropriate, in consultation with our State Health Officer, I am supporting the Coronavirus Guidelines President Trump has issued for America,” Gordon’s statement said. “Accordingly, over the next 15 days, I ask that we do all we can as Wyomingites to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state.

“We should use good judgment, avoid unnecessary travel, keep social gatherings to groups of fewer than 10 people and use drive-through, pickup or delivery options form our local restaurants,” he added.

Teton County officials have already ordered the closure of bars, coffee shops, museums, fitness clubs and other places where more than 10 people might congregate.

Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s spokesman, said the governor will leave the decision on whether to issue such restrictions up to individual counties.

“Individual county health officers should work with county commissioners to determine whether closures are suitable given their circumstances,” he said in an email. “The state health officder would authorize the closure at the request of a county health officer and elected officials.”

Gordon said he understood such actions would create difficulties for the state’s residents.

“These are going to be perhaps the toughest times any of us will see in our lifetimes,” he said. “Although absolutely necessary, I recognize the toll these measures will take on those most dependent on a working wage. But by working together and practicing good hygiene, kindness and charity, we can keep vulnerable adults healthy, avoid overwhelming our health care system and support those most in need.”

Cheyenne Restaurant Owner Sam Galeotos Clarifies Layoffs at The Metropolitan In Wake Of Coronavirus

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The Metropolitan neon sign
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To our families, friends, co-workers, vendors, customers and supporters of The Metropolitan Downtown.Yesterday, we…

Posted by The Metropolitan Downtown on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Sam Galeotos, owner of Cheyenne restaurant The Metropolitan Downtown, took to Facebook on Tuesday to explain the layoffs at his business after news of the move sparked a major backlash on social media.

A letter from Galeotos to 46 Metropolitan staffers began circulating on Facebook sometime Monday evening. In the letter, also dated Monday, Galeotos told his employees that their positions had been eliminated at the restaurant, effective immediately, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It stated their final check would be available March 23 and that they may be eligible for unemployment compensation. It also provided information about health benefits and said there may be possibility for future employment. 

The letter quickly spread through the Cheyenne and Laramie County Facebook community. Most expressed displeasure at the move, with some claiming the terminated staffers wouldn’t be able to receive unemployment due to being part-time “gig workers.” 

Galeotos took to the Met’s Facebook page to offer an explanation, saying he is just a business owner who has been backed into a corner because of a pandemic no one fully prepared for.

“There has been a great deal of chatter and criticism in the social media arena about (the firings), most lacking knowledge of the fundamental facts or circumstances surrounding this difficult situation,” the post said. 

While there have been ups and downs in the nine months since the restaurant opened last summer, Galeotos told readers that coming into 2020, the business was doing well, boasting a hearty customer base and strong staff.

But with the coronavirus pandemic making its way into the United States and Wyoming, the business started to see negative effects. With the federal recommendation that people gather in no groups larger than 10, Galeotos and his management team had to make a tough decision. 

“If we are not allowed to let people in our doors, we cannot cook for them, serve them and accordingly cannot provide an environment where our staff can earn a living,” the post read. “We can try to make the best decision possible for our team and business, even when all the choices are terrible. And that is what we have done.”

The final decision was to downsize the staff, maintaining a skeleton crew to keep the restaurant open in some manner. This will allow team members to file for unemployment or any other government assistance programs in the interim, Galeotos said. 

He stressed the Met is still open for business, where the small staff is rolling out a takeout option with curbside delivery to minimize social contact. 

“This is a very difficult and turbulent time and we have no idea how long it will last,” Galeotos said. “That’s what makes this decision much more difficult. We believe we have acted prudently for our team members and business. It is our sincere hope we will be hiring [the team members] back as this crisis subsides.”

Wyoming Department of Corrections Suspends Visitation

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Visitations to inmates at Wyoming Department of Corrections institutions has been suspended, the DOC announced Wednesday.

The department said while none of the inmates in its institutions has tested positive for coronavirus, it is taking the step to prevent the spread of the illness.

Visits between inmates and their attorneys will be restricted to non-contact or video-telephone conferences, the release said.

“As we move forward, we will continue to evaluate and monitor these restrictions on a weekly basis,” it said.

All staff, visitors, contractors and incarcerated individuals will be screened for coronavirus, it added.

Check out our continuously updated Wyoming Coronavirus news blog.

Sweetwater County Forms Community Resiliency Task Force

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The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, Rock Springs Police Department, Rock Springs Fire Department, Green River Police Department, and Green River Fire Department have announced the creation of the Sweetwater County Community Resiliency Task Force.

The task’s force goal is to serve as an information clearinghouse for public health and safety information as it relates to the coronavirus disease in Sweetwater County. 

During a roundtable discussion, Sheriff John Grossnickle, Rock Springs Police Chief Dwane Pacheco, Green River Police Chief Tom Jarvie, Rock Springs Fire Department Chief Jim Wamsley and Green River Fire Department Deputy Chief Larry Erdmann all reiterated the importance of acting on what we know right now, thoroughly evaluating new information as it comes and in and not overreacting to anything based on speculation or what we do not yet know about what the coronavirus disease might bring for county residents.

While there is not yet a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Sweetwater County, the group hopes to curb the uncertainty, confusion and potential panic commonly associated with the unadulterated spread of misinformation.

“The task force plans to meet twice daily, and is currently reviewing a variety of traditional print, electronic and social media outlets to ensure that the information disseminated by the group about COVID-19 is readily accessible to all members of our community,” said task force spokesperson and public information officer Jason Mower.

In the meantime, County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon reminds everyone, “The best course of action right now for everyone is to respect and practice the Wyoming Department of Health’s current priority coronavirus recommendations for state residents, which includes washing your hands thoroughly and often, sneezing and coughing into your elbow, staying home if you are sick and away from high-risk populations and social distancing. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, particularly a fever, cough and shortness of breath, and are concerned about your possible exposure to COVID-19, please contact your primary care provider by phone or the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County nurse triage hotline at (307) 522-8523 to discuss the possibility of testing.”

Sweetwater County’s Community Resiliency Task Force intends to release more information and details on this rapidly evolving situation as it becomes available.

Four More Wyoming Coronavirus Cases Confirmed

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Coronavirus
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Testing at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory has identified three additional reported cases in the state of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH). An additional case was identified by commercial reference laboratory testing.

The new cases involve an adult female in Park County, an adult female in Laramie County, an adult male in Sheridan County and an adult female in Sheridan County. No more information is available at this time regarding the Park County or Laramie County cases. The two new Sheridan County cases are close contacts of two previously identified cases from the county.

The total number of Wyoming cases is now 15.

WDH will follow up regarding exposure risks and will work to identify and communicate with contacts. Known contacts will be monitored for symptoms and tested as needed.

For more information about coronavirus disease 2019 and Wyoming, visit: https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus/.

For more details about the disease from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

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Laramie County Resident Tests Positive with Coronavirus; Cases up to 11

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The number of Wyoming residents with coronavirus grew to 11 on Tuesday as an older adult male in Laramie County tested positive for the illness.

The Wyoming Department of Health announced that testing at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory revealed the infection. No other information was immediately available.

The case marks the 11th in Wyoming and came just one day after seven people connected with a Lander retirement home tested positive for the virus. All seven were linked with one older male who was living at the Showboat Retirement Center.

Laramie County is the third in the state where the illness has surfaced. In addition to the Fremont County cases, two cases were diagnosed in Sheridan County.

**Follow Cowboy State Daily’s Live Wyoming Coronavirus Blog**

WyoMovies Closes Theaters Until Further Notice

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empty movie theatre
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Theater chain WyoMovies has shut down all of its locations across the state, effective immediately, according to a post on its website.

Meanwhile, Regal and AMC, which both operate movie theaters in Wyoming, also announced the closures of their theaters.

WyoMovies, in a statement on its website, said its more than 60 screens in Casper, Cheyenne, Laramie, Green River and Rock Springs would go dark until further notice.

“This is an unprecedented time for all of us,” the statement read. “As many of you know, our theaters have long been open every day of the year. We look forward to opening our doors and lighting up our screens for you again very soon.”

Anyone who has purchased advance tickets through the WyoMovies website will be contacted to receive refunds. Those who purchased tickets through Atom Tickets must approach that company to obtain refunds.

The theater’s Studio Rewards won’t expire during the closure. 

The theater will reschedule screenings of “Jump Shot,” a documentary about University of Wyoming basketball star Kenny Sailors. The film was executive produced by basketball player Steph Curry and was originally scheduled to be screened in April. 

AMC, which runs the AMC Classic Frontier 9 theater in Cheyenne’s Frontier Mall, said all of its theaters — including those in Fort Collins, Colorado — would close “in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines.”

Theaters in Colorado, along with bars and other places where people congregate, have been ordered closed for 30 days by the state.

No such order has been issued in Wyoming.

Regal, which runs the Regal Fox Theater in Laramie, also closed its theaters across the country “as a precaution amid the current circumstances.”

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