Coronavirus clusters continue to spread as state total climbs into 200s
The two largest coronavirus clusters in WY continued to grow over the weekend.
April 07, 2020
The two largest coronavirus clusters in Wyoming continued to grow over the weekend as the state’s total cases swiftly surpassed 200.
The largest cluster in the state has blossomed out from the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander. Fremont County has 38 total cases, the second most in the state. It’s unclear how many of those are tied to the Showboat, but it’s certainly the majority, a state health official said Monday. Nine new cases were identified there over the weekend, adding to an already sizable cluster.
Over the weekend, Fremont County health officials said they would test all remaining Showboat staff and residents. Kim Deti, a state Health Department spokeswoman, said that after the initial case was identified there last month, the state sent out a team and tested everyone who was symptomatic.
Officials in Fremont County have also said the total number of cases there is higher than is known; several hundred people have self-isolated without a firm diagnosis because of testing shortages.
Deti described the situation tied to the Showboat as “rolling” and said the disease emanating from the facility is beyond one or two degrees of separation now. Messages sent to spokesmen in Fremont County were not returned Monday.
In Natrona County, 12 of the 26 identified cases here are linked to the Wyoming Behavioral Institute, an inpatient mental health hospital here. That number has tripled in five days. Last week, county health officer Dr. Mark Dowell described the cluster there are significant and said it was likely the result of “asymptomatic shedding.”
“You can be spewing virus for up to two or three days before you become ill, and that’s what we think happened there,” Dowell told the Star-Tribune on Friday.
It’s unclear if WBI is testing all of its patients and staff, or if it’s still accepting patients at all. Business development manager Emily Quarterman-Genoff said last week that the patients who’ve contracted the virus are in “strict isolation” and infected staff are isolating at home.
“We have reduced hospital capacity to ensure everyone’s well-being, creating isolation areas while still being able to meet the needs of those in crisis,” she said.
Health officials in Natrona County have provided information on the WBI patients. They include three females in their 50s; two males in their 20s; two females in their 20s; a female in her 40s; a male in his 50s; two males, whose ages haven’t been disclosed; and a female in her 70s.
Of the remaining 13 Natrona County patients, three are linked to domestic travel and three more are related to international travel. Several more have unknown origins.
The county and Wyoming Medical Center have collectively tested 456 people here, with 389 combing back negative. Forty-two samples are still pending processing and confirmation.
Statewide, there have been 212 cases as of Monday evening. Beyond the cases tied to the two facilities in Casper and Lander, there aren’t other identified clusters of the same size or of the same circumstances — spread from an inpatient facility — anywhere else in Wyoming.
Over the weekend, the state identified 44 new cases. Roughly 4,000 test samples have been processed in state and private labs, and 52 patients have recovered. Overall, 24 patients have been hospitalized.
Since Friday evening, new cases were identified in Campbell, Converse, Fremont, Goshen, Laramie, Natrona, Sheridan, Sweetwater, Teton, Uinta and Washakie counties.