COVID-19 testing state's health-care system

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Surging cases of COVID-19 throughout Wyoming have led to the most hospitalizations the state has seen since last December. In its Aug. 27 update, Sublette County Public Health officials believed the county surpassed its 10 active cases in the community as reported because of COVID-19 indicators measured in wastewater.

Now another Sublette County man’s death in August has been attributed to COVID-19.

“Looking at levels over the past year, COVID wastewater level readings are currently higher than ever – this is just another indicator that we have a high level of infected individuals at this time that may not be reflected in our case counts,” the Public Health update read.

Public Health encouraged those who are feeling ill to get tested and quarantine. That update alone confirmed individuals were quarantining or isolating in Big Piney, Boulder, Bondurant, Marbleton and Pinedale.

The state’s hospitals have been stretched to capacity. On Sept. 1, hospitals reported a collective 198 COVID-19 patients. That’s the closest the state has gotten to its record high of 247 (on Nov. 30), since mid-December. Among those hospitals, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center reported 48 patients and Wyoming Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital, reported 39. The latest Public Health update confirmed three Sublette County patients with COVID-19 were transported to area hospitals for additional care.

On Monday, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County announced the cancellation of all elective surgeries until further notice. Then, on Sept. 1, the Sweetwater District Board of Health members collectively wrote a letter acknowledging an influx of COVID-19 patients in its health-care facilities and in schools. That letter recommended those 12 and older to get vaccinated and to increase sanitary practices like hand washing and staying home when sick.

With another 23 COVID-related deaths confirmed on Aug. 31, the state’s total increased to 858. That now includes 11 from Sublette County.

The Wyoming Department of Health confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in the state increased by 714 on Wednesday alone. That brought the state’s total, at the time, to 4,153 – the highest amount since Dec. 9. That included 621 laboratory-confirmed cases and 250 new reports of probable cases. Numbers on the WDH website showed 31 confirmed cases in Sublette County as of Wednesday night.

This current surge in cases comes as students are returning to school. Neighboring Teton County School District 1 is starting classes with masks required, as the whole county has issued a mandate requiring masks to be worn as long as transmission rates stay at established levels. Hot Springs School District 1, which started classes on Aug. 18, started two weeks of virtual classes on Sept. 1 because of a local spike in COVID-19 cases. That district planned on returning to in-person classes by Sept. 13.

There are also the cases where no precautions were taken. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported on Aug. 31 that after the first week of classes, 10 percent of Laramie County School District 2 (Burns and Pine Bluffs) students were quarantined. That same day, Laramie County School District 1 (Cheyenne) reported 458 children were quarantined and 74 children were confirmed positive with COVID-19 after just one week of classes. Those numbers did not include staff or faculty quarantining or confirmed positive.

The Sublette County School District 1 Board of Trustees previously adopted its protocols for the 2021-22 academic year, which do not require masks or vaccinations. Students across the district returned to class on Wednesday.