The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is saying today that a previously identified Fremont County case of coronavirus has signaled potential local community spread and stated that it warranted special attention and prevention measures related to long-term care.

Wyoming Public Health Laboratory has identified an older adult male Fremont County resident as the second known Wyoming case on March 13. The patient is currently hospitalized at SageWest Health Care in Lander. He is a resident of Showboat Retirement Center, also in Lander. State and county public health staff are conducting interviews at both facilities and will recommend testing and other actions needed to help protect residents, patients and staff.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, a state health officer with WDH, said community spread means the potential spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown.  She stated, “Our initial follow up with this individual found nothing that could be explained other than potential community spread of this virus in the Lander area.”

Harrist has emphasized the protection of Wyoming's older residents in long-term care facilities, stating that “This is probably our top concern and priority. There are things we don’t yet fully understand about this disease, but it is clear that older people are among those at the very highest risk of severe illness."

The federal government regulates nursing homes, but the state has a more prominent role in assisted living centers.

“We have seen very restrictive guidelines issued recently from the federal government for nursing homes and I am recommending the same practices for Wyoming’s assisted living centers,” Harrist said.

The nursing home guidelines say there should be no visitors or the non-essential healthcare personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations.

The federal guidelines have been shared with Wyoming nursing homes by the WDH Healthcare Licensing and Surveys Office and can be found here.

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