ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (March 25, 2020) — Sweetwater County Health Officials discussed the current state of COVID-19 during a press conference held today.
Officials included Sweetwater County Public Health Director Kim Lionberger, Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon, and Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Incident Commander Kim White.
Kim Lionberger explained that, currently, the Public Health office does not test for COVID-19. Lionberger also discussed the first COVID-19 case found in Sweetwater County, a Green River resident in his 40’s.
Lionberger explained that the only contact the resident had was with members of his family and that the family members had been contacted and were in quarantine.
“There were not that many contact tracings that came from the positive test result,” said Lionberger.
Lionberger also touched on the State’s ability to test for COVID-19.
“The State has ramped up their ability to test samples,” Lionberger said. “At this point, they are caught up on all the tests they have received. The turnaround time should be improving.”
Dr. Jean Stachon explained that she believes there are “quite a few” positive cases in the community.
“We just have not been able to prove it,” Stachon said. “The County does have a plan in place, the important thing is to try to stop spreading it. I’m sure it is out in our community, we just don’t have the numbers to prove it yet, but we will.”
“The doubling time is thought to be every two to three days,” Stachon continued. “The numbers are going up for weeks and months. That is why we talk about flattening the curve.”
Stachon discussed the phrase “flattening the curve”, and how it can help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“What it means, in plain talk, is if someone has it, how many people they come in contact with can spread that. Numbers have shown that every couple of days, there is twice the amount of positive as there was before. We may have identified one in our community but there is more than that. The concept of flattening the curve is that you limit your contact with other people so that it doesn’t go anywhere else. That is vital and huge.”
“The thinking in the United States is that our peak is probably still three to four weeks ahead of us. This will go on for months. The big important thing is social distancing.”
Stachon discussed the possibility of shelter in place order coming into effect in Wyoming or Sweetwater County.
“I would like to think that our recommendations that are out there right now are just short of that,” Stachon explained. “Right now it would be beneficial if people would follow the concept of no groups, staying five to six feet apart.”
“What we are hoping is that the public will get the idea, do what is right, and stay home. The hope is that no one will have to tell you, that you will choose to do it on your own because it is the right thing to do.”
Kim White discussed the state of equipment at the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.
“Our capacity for ventilators is actually expanding,” White explained. “Every day we have people offering us more equipment throughout the community. We are working on expanding those numbers every day so that we can be able to take care of the patients should we get them.”
White also detailed the state of swabbing stations in Rock Springs.
“When we first started the swabbing station we saw an increased number of patients,” White discussed. “They are averaging about 20 patients at the drive-through swabbing station. Those are not official numbers, but that is what they feel like they are averaging. Since the test has been available, we have had a consistent amount of people coming in to get tested.”
White says that, since the opening of the Triage line, the number of reported symptoms has remained steady.
“When we first went live with that we saw a lot more, but when I talked to patients recently, it had gone down in numbers, we have not had as many. I have yet to see the numbers of if it has increased again after the first positive test in the county. When we first started we saw a large influx, but since then it has been more consistent.”
The community can reach out to Wyo4News with questions regarding COVID-19 at [email protected]