Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

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By Karla Pomeroy

County to follow state guidelines: State to allow gyms, personal care services to open Friday


April 30, 2020

WORLAND — Washakie County will follow the state guidelines regarding easing restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

Washakie County Health Officer Dr. Ed Zimmerman, during a question and answer session on Facebook, said he had received several requests for exemptions from businesses including some nail and hair salons. He said Tuesday that he has denied all the requests at this time awaiting new orders from the state.

He said, “We’re expecting some relaxation on the service industry.”

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist announced later on Tuesday that while orders are being extended through May 15, starting May 1 new public health orders will allow gyms, barber shops, hair salons and other personal care services to reopen under specific operating conditions designed to minimize public health risk from COVID-19. Other parts of the phased approach involve easing restrictions on day cares and issuing guidance to hospitals allowing them to resume elective surgeries.

Zimmerman said in denying the exemption requests he believed the state was going to lift some restrictions on those businesses.

“We will follow the state plan. There will be no additional restrictions,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman, and health care providers Sarah Anne Galloway, nurse practitioner at Wild Rose Wellness and Shantay Stallings, physician assistant at Banner Medical Clinic in Worland, addressed a myriad of other questions from the public.

•The extent of community spread is unknown at this time in Washakie County and the Big Horn Basin because testing has been lifted. Testing restrictions have been limited they said so providers can test anyone with symptoms of COVID-19.

If you are ill with any symptoms they ask residents to contact their provider to be tested.

Zimmerman said having more people get tested will show if there is a surge when restrictions are relaxed.

They said people who are tested should quarantine until results come back.

Common symptoms that have been seen around the Basin are fever, body aches, shortness of breath, headache, occasional diarrhea and coughing. Zimmerman said the most prevalent symptom is the cough.

As of Tuesday, Washakie County Public Health reported 72 tests complete, 64 negative, five positive (with one tested in Hot Springs County), four pending and three probable. The Wyoming Department of Health showed eight recoveries, five lab-confirmed tests and three probable cases. Probable cases are defined as close contacts of lab-confirmed cases with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

•There is no cure but a combination of anti-viral medications have proven effective for some COVID-19 patients.

•Zimmerman recommended that birthday parties still be postponed at this time.

•Masks are recommended as they can help prevent a person who is asymptomatic from spreading COVID-19 to others. Galloway emphasized if a person does wear a mask they should make sure it fits properly and covers the nose and mouth.

Zimmerman said residents need to renew their efforts in social distancing as he has seen more people in stores, including whole families with children touching multiple surfaces throughout the store.

•Gloves are not recommended if people are out and about. Zimmerman said it is better for people to wash their hands and not to touch their face.

•Home test kits that can be purchased online are not as accurate or reliable as the lab tests provided by health care providers.

•It is safe to receive a package no matter where it originates from.

•There is not a concern regarding the number of ventilators needed. Zimmerman said they try to do everything not to put a patient on a ventilator. Galloway added that some COVID-19 patients have had more complications when placed on a ventilator.

Stallings added that New York got low on ventilators but never ran out.

Zimmerman said Washakie County is at the peak or near the peak so even if cases doubled or tripled there would not be a concern regarding ventilators.

•Regarding a second wave of the virus, all three providers said health care providers are more prepared now and there is testing available, which was not available when the first wave hit the United States.

“We’re much more prepared. I don’t know if the second wave will be worse than the first,” Zimmerman said.

Stallings added that testing will be key to preparing for and getting through a second wave if it comes. Galloway said it is important for people to be smart as restrictions are lifted. “We just need to be smart and utilize what we’ve learned,” she said.


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