News from the Wyoming Department of Health
STATE ORDERS AND GUIDANCE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
As COVID-19 Cases Grow, Prevention More Important Than Ever
To Date, 1,016 Lab-confirmed Cases, 266 Probable Cases and 20 Deaths Reported Among Wyoming Residents
As Wyoming’s reported number of lab-confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases grows past the 1,000 case mark, simple steps meant to limit the spread of the virus are more important than ever, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
“We expected to see more cases over time and believe we are in a better position to respond now than earlier,” Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said. “However, this virus has shown us simple actions and choices that might not seem like a big deal at the time can harm others and quickly change the disease picture within a community. That’s why we need people to be mindful of what they can do to slow the spread of the virus.”
Harrist said experts have learned more over the last several months about COVID-19, which is still a relatively new virus.
“We now know some individuals can transmit the virus to others before they feel or show any symptoms. This is very important because it means people can spread the virus to other people without realizing they are infected,” she said.
“It’s also become increasingly clear the virus spreads mainly between people when they are close to each other,” Harrist said. “When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, the tiny respiratory droplets they produce can spread through the air to people who are nearby, typically within 6 feet.”
Harrist said it is critical for people who have symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 to stay home from work and away from others unless medical care is needed and to ask a medical professional about testing. “We’ve seen examples of people spreading the virus among coworkers. Depending on the size and nature of the employer, a few sick workers or many sick workers can have potentially devastating effects on the businesses we count on for jobs and services,” she said.
“We recommend physical distancing whenever practical because it’s not always possible to know if you are infected. This remains important because of how the virus spreads,” Harrist said.
WDH also recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where it is not possible or reasonable to stay physically apart because they can help block virus transmission.
Cloth face coverings can purchased, made or adapted from common items and materials at low cost. They should not be placed on children younger than age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who can’t take the covering off without help.
“With summer arriving, more people are enjoying outdoor events. We encourage people to take part in these activities safely, by staying 6 feet away from people in other households and wearing face coverings,” Harrist said.
Harrist also asked people to respect directions they may receive if told they have been exposed to the virus. “If you receive a personal public health order it is important to follow the requirements,” she said. “Isolation and quarantine orders are one of our most important strategies to help limit the spread of a disease and to help prevent the infection of vulnerable individuals.”
Isolation orders are generally issued for people who are known to have a disease, while quarantine orders are intended for people who have been potentially exposed to a disease as close contacts.
COVID-19 symptoms, which may appear 2 to 14 days after virus exposure, include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
Older residents and people with certain health conditions have a higher risk of developing more serious or life-threatening complications.
More Wyoming COVID-19 information, statistics and recommendations can be found at: https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus/.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR STATE HEALTH OFFICER:
Understandably, many of you may have questions about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak situation. At the Wyoming Department of Health, we are closely monitoring the situation and sharing our recommendations.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold in people and others that circulate among animals. This is a new virus and new viruses need special attention. There are simply some things we don’t know about COVID-19 such as how easily it spreads and how many patients may experience severe illness, and there is no available vaccine.
However, the symptoms reported with this disease are familiar to all of us: fever, cough and shortness of breath. We know there are common-sense steps that can help prevent these kinds of illnesses from spreading:
· Avoid close contact with sick people.
· While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
· Stay home if sick
· Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
· Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
· Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Coronavirus information and updates from our department can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus/. If you are interested in receiving our future news releases, you can sign up here: https://health.wyo.gov/news/.
For now, we also want Wyoming residents to pay attention to special travel recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
Our most important piece of advice right now is for people to stay informed about COVID-19 and to look for updates and recommendations from credible sources such as our department and the CDC.
Alexia Harrist MD, PhD
State Epidemiologist and State Health Officer
Wyoming Department of Health