As recent cases spike, county again recommends to gather in household groups only

JACKSON, Wyo. — In response to recent COVID spikes, Teton County Health Officer Travis Riddell, MD, MPH has reissued Recommendation #11, asking community members to reconsider gathering with others who do not live in their household.

“Current community-wide COVID numbers and hospital census numbers are comparable to and in some cases higher than they were in the beginning of December when we previously enacted the household-gathering-only recommendation,” Riddell said. “After that, we saw case numbers go down in our county for a couple weeks. My hope is that this targeted intervention will help us achieve a similar result.”

In the last week, Teton County was notified of over 270 new COVID-19 cases, averaging 39 cases per day. On January 11, 2021, more than 60 new cases were reported. Teton County Health Department is still attempting to contact all positive cases, but it may take multiple days to reach any one individual due to the current caseload.

“When the number of COVID-19 cases is this high, it overwhelms our staff. Unless case numbers decrease, our team will not be able to contact all new positive cases each day,” said Teton County Health Director, Jodie Pond, MPH. “This is significant because it also delays other important steps, such as notifying the close contacts of positive cases.”

According to the Teton County COVID-19 dashboard, Jan. 11, 2020, saw the highest number of new daily cases since the pandemic began. Photo: Teton County Health Department

Re-issuance of Recommendation #11:

The recommendation says that gatherings should be limited to household groups to help stop the spread of COVID. A “household group” is defined as a group of individuals who reside in the same residence.

Attending work and school is still appropriate with proper physical distancing, mask usage, and hygiene measures.  The recommendation asks that people avoid other social, recreational, and extracurricular gatherings with members outside of their household. Though this isn’t a Health Order that is enforceable by law, Teton County Health Department is asking community members to help assist in lowering our current COVID-19 case counts by following this recommendation.

“If you have tested positive for COVID-19, we ask that you isolate yourself from everyone possible, including members of your household, right away,” Teton County said in a press release. “This includes using your own bedroom and bathroom when possible. If you must share a common space, wear a mask, and always keep a distance of at least six feet from others. Ensure surfaces are frequently disinfected and all household members should not only wash their hands regularly but also wear masks inside.”

As of January 12, 2021, the number of active cases of COVID in Teton County is 247. There are currently 14 COVlD related hospitalizations at St. John’s Health in Jackson. St. John’s Health has six Intensive Care Unit beds. St. John’s Health is also experiencing 22 staff members being quarantined from possible contact with COVID positive people, and five staff members are COVID positive. The CEO of St. John’s Health, Dr. Paul Beaupre, has expressed concern for the ability of the hospital to handle any increased number of hospitalizations.

“Based on past surges, we expect to see more hospitalizations in the coming weeks,” Pond said. “Hospitalizations tend to lag a couple of weeks behind spikes in COVID-19 cases.”

Teton County Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Natalia D. Macker stated, “Please join us in supporting and following this necessary recommendation. The vaccine is here, it is being distributed, and we must slow the spread. We know what to do, so let’s do it for our families and friends, for our schools and businesses, and for all the people who have been working tirelessly for many months without a break. Please heed this request from our health professionals. We are all fatigued, but we cannot let our guard down now.”

For more information on what to do if you tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to someone who tested positive, please visit https://www.tetoncountywy.gov/2061/COVID-19. With Teton County’s contact tracing capacity currently overwhelmed, they are asking all community members to please continue to follow preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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