CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK)-The Wyoming Department of Health still believes the risk of COVID-19 in Wyoming remains low. However, State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist that may change.
"We believe it's likely the disease will spread to this state at some point, but do not yet know how widespread the illness will be over time after it does arrive," said Harrist. "In Wyoming, travelers to certain locations with high numbers of reported cases and close contacts of ill people are at the highest risk."
She is asking long term care facilities to tighten up visitor screening and encouraging citizens to avoid non-essential plane trips and crowded places.
Harrist said the symptoms of the disease are familiar. "There are simply some things we don't yet fully know about COVID-19 such as how easily it spreads and how many patients may experience severe illness," Harrist said.
The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory began COVID-19 testing last week. Some large commercial laboratories have added COVID-19 tests to their services.
Because they are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, the CDC also says older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should consider avoiding situations with increased risk for transmission. Examples include avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips and avoiding crowded places.
"We are also recommending that Wyoming's long-term care facilities such as nursing homes take steps such as screening of visitors and employees, and reviewing their illness prevention plans," Harrist said.
Harrist recommended steps that can help avoid the spread of any respiratory illness, including COVID 19:
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.
"One thing we are NOT recommending is the use of facemasks as a general preventive measure," Harrist said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend people who are well wear facemasks. Facemasks should be used by people who are ill to help prevent spread. Facemasks are also important for health workers and others taking care of infected people.