County will require more details from coronavirus dataApr 5, 2020 By Clair McFarland, Staff Writer
Fremont County is pushing for clarity in the coronavirus pandemic.
Fremont County Health Officer Dr. Brian Gee issued a March 26 order to the local medical clinics, compelling them to provide information about coronavirus-positive and suspected positive patients.
When asked if local healthcare clinics and hospitals have been resistant to releasing information relevant to tracking the pandemic on a county-wide scale, Fremont County Commission Chairman Travis Becker said no, there hasn't been resistance, but the order was placed upon the clinics anyway, to "ensure we were all on the same playing surface."
"It's been really good, to see how everybody's working together and cooperating," he noted.
Enabled by his emergency authority, Gee's order informs healthcare providers they "must" update his office by 1 p.m. each day as to the following:
• Total test kits available in the facility
• Tests collected in the prior 24 hours
• How many tests have come back negative, positive, or are pending
• All patients seen by the clinic while bearing coronavirus symptoms
• Number of patients isolated in the past 24 hours
• The origin of each patient: Lander, Riverton, Dubois, Fort Washakie, Ethete, Arapahoe, Hudson, Pavillion, or Shoshoni
"Sharing and distribution of information is necessary to help control the COVID-10 epidemic," the order reads, adding that "accurate information" is vital.
Like state-level public health orders from Wyoming Gov. Gordon's office mandating social distance, violation of Gee's transparency order is punishable as a misdemeanor. Penalties in this case are up to six months in jail and $100 in fines, according to the statute invoked. Violators "may also be the subject of a civil lawsuit," the document reads.
The county's first coronavirus patient was diagnosed March 13. Since then, the county's Incident Management Team's daily dispatches have morphed from basic updates, to breakdowns of infection, origin, recovery, and hospitalization numbers.
"To get that stuff, we understand is kind of hard," said Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese, "But that's what the public wants to know - and that's a good thing."