CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon declared an emergency Friday to devote health officials and National Guard troops to a potential surge in cases of the new coronavirus.
The state of emergency and public health emergency signed by Gordon also orders the state Department of Homeland Security to respond to the potential health threat as needed.
Other states including neighboring Colorado, where National Guard medics were being trained to respond to coronavirus and medical students were asked to help with testing, have taken similar steps.
Only one person in Wyoming had tested positive for the virus causing the COVID-19 illness so far. The Sheridan County woman diagnosed Wednesday had a relatively mild case and was improving, health officials said.
It's possible other cases have gone unidentified in Wyoming, where the state Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control had tested 22 people for the virus, State Ep! idemiologist Dr. Ali Harrist said at a news conference with Gordon on Friday.
Wyoming's emergency declaration, coinciding with a national emergency declaration by President Donald Trump on Friday, helps ensure Wyoming is prepared, Gordon said.
"We continue to be most concerned about our state's elderly and vulnerable populations and want to ensure we are taking all necessary steps to address what we may face going forward," Gordon said in a news release.
The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Besides mobilizing health workers an! d others, the declaration would enable certain businesses affected by the pandemic to get emergency Small Business Administration loans.
The emergency came amid ongoing cancellations, postponements and other measures to stem the spread of the virus.
The Wyoming High School Activities Association on Friday suspended all extracurricular activities from Monday through March 28. This weekend's Class 3A and 4A basketball championships were canceled.
The University of Wyoming on Friday canceled all spring-semester sports competitions, coinciding with cancellations by the Mountain West Conference and other college and professional athletics nationwide.
The university also extended its spring break, set to begin after classes Friday, through the end of the month while officials look at possibly holding classes online. Community colleges also extended spring break.
Gordon on Thursday urged people to reconsider and consult with health authorities before holding g atherings of more than 250 people.