COVID-19 confirmed in Carbon County

Two confirmed cases as of Monday bring statewide total to 28 as testing continues

Series: COVID-19 | Story 10

In less than a week, Wyoming has seen a rapid increase in the amount of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as testing continues throughout the state. In that time, Carbon County has added two confirmed cases to the statewide total of 28 as of March 23.

The first case for Carbon County was announced late Friday evening by Jacquelin Wells, regional nurse supervisor, in a press release to media outlets.

“Local officials were notified late today by the Wyoming Department of Health that an adult male, over the age of 50 and living in Carbon County, had tested positive for COVID-19,” the release read. “The test was performed at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory, which is part of the Wyoming Department of Health. He continues to self-isolate at home while being monitored by health officials.”

Ken Harman, CEO of Memorial Hospital of Carbon County (MHCC), was quoted in the release stating that the first confirmed case in Carbon County was an employee of MHCC, though not one that was in contact with patients at the hospital.

“The first case of coronavirus in Carbon County has been confirmed. An employee of Memorial Hospital of Carbon County tested positive following showing symptoms of the virus. The employee does not work in a clinical area and has been self-isolated at home for the last seven days,” Harman was quoted as saying. 

The Saratoga Sun reached out to Stephanie Hinkle, communications director for MHCC, on Saturday for further comment.

“This employee was not employed in a clinical position and did not have direct contact with patients at MHCC,” said Hinkle. “Two additional people who qualified as having direct contact with the employee are self-quarantining at home and will also be tested for COVID-19 if they develop signs of illness. At this time, we do not know how the employee acquired COVID-19 but the investigation continues.”

In the late Friday press release, Carbon County Health Officer Wayne Couch was quoted as saying, “Though this is our first case, we do not expect it to be our last. I encourage Carbon County to stay vigilant with personal hygiene practices and social distancing. If you are exhibiting a fever, cough and flu-like symptoms please contact your healthcare provider. If you have any questions, please contact Carbon County Public Health.”

Three days later, on March 23, it was announced that Carbon County had a second confirmed case.

“Local officials were notified late today by the Wyoming Department of Health that a resident of Carbon County recently tested positive for COVID-19 out of state,” read a press release issued by Wells. “The State of Wyoming Department of Health, in conjunction with Carbon County Public Health, determined no case investigations were needed related to this case being diagnosed out of state.”

As the number of cases continues to rise throughout the state, jumping from 3 to 28 in just one week, Doctor Duane Abels of the Energy Basin Clinic in Hanna emphasized that Carbon County is low risk compared to other counties and other states. According to Wells, the number of tests being performed changes on a daily basis but there are three clinics in the county providing testing at this time. This includes the Energy Basin Clinic in Hanna and the Platte Valley Clinic in Saratoga.

According to Mark Pesognelli, manager of Platte Valley Clinic, the clinic is open and operating under modified operations and testing for COVID-19. He added that all patient results have come back negative as have those for clinical staff. Additionally, two tests performed at Saratoga Care Center have also come back negative.

“Our provider will be taking phone consultations for those who have urgent needs or questions,” said Pesognelli. “Patients who would like a phone consultation can call the clinic at 307-326-3169. We request that patients do not come directly to the facility without first calling the clinic and discussing your needs with one of our staff members.”

MHCC has implemented similar procedures with a call-line to screen patients who have a fever, cough or influenza like symptoms, have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have traveled within the past 14 days to an area with widespread transmission. The number for the hotline is 307-321-5767.

Health officials continue to stress Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19. These include staying home if you are sick and monitoring your symptoms, washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and practice social distancing by keeping a six foot distance from others and not to congregate in places with more than 10 people.


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