Health Recommendations Updated As Coronavirus Risk Grows

Health Recommendations Updated As Coronavirus Risk Grows

March 9, 2020

While the current risk of transmission in Wyoming is still low, the overall situation surrounding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to become more concerning, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said “We have no reported cases in our state to date and that’s one of the reasons we still believe the risk within Wyoming from this virus remains low. We believe it’s likely the disease will spread to this state at some point, but do not yet know how widespread the illness will be over time after it does arrive. In Wyoming, travelers to certain locations with high numbers of reported cases and close contacts of ill people are at the highest risk.”

“There are simply some things we don’t yet fully know about COVID-19 such as how easily it spreads and how many patients may experience severe illness,” Harrist said. “However, the symptoms reported with this disease are familiar to all of us:  fever, cough and shortness of breath.”

Harrist recommended steps that can help avoid the spread of any respiratory illness, including COVID 19:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • Stay home if sick.
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol.

“One thing we are NOT recommending is the use of facemasks as a general preventive measure,” Harrist said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend people who are well wear facemasks. Facemasks should be used by people who are ill to help prevent spread. Facemasks are also important for health workers and others taking care of infected people.

Harrist noted the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory, which is part of WDH, began COVID-19 testing last week. Some large commercial laboratories have also added COVID-19 tests to their services.

“Travel recommendations and restrictions are also important to help prevent the spread of illness,” Harrist said. The CDC currently recommends no nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy and no travel on cruise ships. Entry to the United States from China and Iran is also restricted.

Because they are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, the CDC also says older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should consider avoiding situations with increased risk for transmission. Examples include avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips and avoiding crowded places.

“We are also recommending that Wyoming’s long-term care facilities such as nursing homes take steps such as screening of visitors and employees, and reviewing their illness prevention plans,” Harrist said.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold in people and others that circulate among animals.

For more information about coronavirus disease 2019 and Wyoming, visit:

https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus/.

For more details about the disease and its national and international status from the CDC, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.