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Expect restrictions into summer, doc says

Apr 10, 2020 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The spread of coronavirus in Fremont County is projected to peak around the end of April, public health officer Brian Gee said during a press conference Wednesday.

The public health emergency won't be over by then, however.

"That peak has to come down," Gee said, noting that it will take time for the spread of the virus to slow enough to warrant lifting current public health orders in place throughout the country.

"We're going to have to maintain these physical distancing tools we've been doing ... onward into the spring and into the summer."

Gee also pointed to concerns that "waves of illness" could re-arise as public health orders are relaxed in the future.

"We'll be watching out for those sorts of things as well," he said.

Health orders

Local officials responding to questions at fremontwycovid.com said they would only recommend that the public health measures currently in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 be lifted if there were a "sustained reduction in cases" for at least 14 days.

They said they also would want to ensure the hospital system had "the capacity to test and monitor every suspected viral case" and was capable of treating coronavirus cases "without resorting to crisis standards of care."

"We are potentially a long ways away from that currently," the response read.

When asked about issuing more strict public health orders in Fremont County than the ones currently in place statewide - for example, a stay-at-home order - Gee talked about the efforts local people have taken on their own to avoid spreading coronavirus.

Wind River Indian Reservation tribal leaders have put their own restrictions in place, he said, and long-term care facilities have "essentially ben on lockdown for over a month."

"I think our county is doing pretty well," he said. "Can we do better? Yes."

He encouraged people to wear masks in public and continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene. Gee also asked local business owners should seek strategies to limit the number of people inside of their stores at one time.

Capacity

It has been a "ongoing struggle" to obtain personal protective equipment for health care providers in Fremont County, Gee said Wednesday.

"We're really trying to conserve," he said. "It's always on everybody's mind. (That's why we're) trying to prevent those big surges of patients."

Local officials are preparing for such a surge, looking at facilities throughout the county that could house an overflow of patients, like the Central Wyoming College campuses in Riverton and Lander, Gee said.

He and his team also have been contacting volunteer doctors and nurses throughout Wyoming who could be recruited to help if needed, Gee said, adding, "I think what we're doing here in Fremont County is actually helping the whole state."

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2020-05-28

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