With the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the state, Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) are stepping up their efforts to protect vulnerable populations, enhance contact tracing efforts and expand testing availability to all residents.
Governor Gordon is also concerned that Wyoming’s economy will be affected by this rise in cases. While the state remains open, the impacts of the surge in cases affect all Wyomingites. Wyoming has averaged more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the past 14 days, and more than 100 Wyomingites with the virus are hospitalized around the state as of October 30.
“This surge in cases in our communities is directly impacting Wyoming’s healthcare system, our businesses and industries, and straining our healthcare workforce,” Governor 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, Wyoming continues 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 continues its surveillance testing program, where a percentage of residents are tested regularly.
WDH is 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 its help with contact tracing support next week. Contact tracing is one of the state’s most effective strategies in isolating the virus and preventing its spread.
“I want to thank our citizen soldiers for being ready and willing to serve their communities when counties requested assistance with this vital service,” the Governor 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. Additional rapid testing utilizing the limited number of BinaxNOW platforms provided by the federal government is also being integrated into the state’s strategy.
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 COVID-19 testing as well. By making regular and frequent surveillance testing available, Wyoming businesses will have an additional way to keep their staff and their customers as safe as possible, preventing future impacts to their operations due to illness. Wyoming’s school surveillance testing program is underway, with 27 districts currently participating.
Wyoming is also in the process of exploring a program that would offer incentives to businesses that voluntarily make changes to operations that enhance the safety of employees, customers, and the general public.
Wyoming’s public health orders have been extended an additional two weeks through November 15.