CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Health officials in Wyoming have reported that the number of people hospitalized for the coronavirus has increased to 73, the highest point since the pandemic started in March.
The state received 68 hospitalization reports on Monday, but it didn’t include five patients hospitalized at Jackson’s St. Johns Health, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Sunday was the first time hospitalizations exceeded 60.
Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Ghazi Ghanem said last week that current hospitalization numbers reflect COVID-19 spread from two weeks ago, as it can take up to 14 days for those exposed to the virus to exhibit symptoms of illness.
The increase in hospitalizations mirror an increase of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases reported across the state since late September, health officials said, adding that October has been a record-setting month for cases.
The first week of October, Wyoming was averaging about 105 newly confirmed cases a day, officials said. That average is now above 162 new daily cases, outpacing any previous time period since March. Wyoming also reached an all-time record on Friday for new confirmed cases in a single day with 248.
The state’s largest hospital, Wyoming Medical Center, opened its COVID-19 surge unit for the first time and activated its Code Orange Incident Command, which establishes special protocols and appoints a team to evaluate daily concerns and communicate them with the rest of the staff.
The facility also stopped accepting non-emergent patients transferred from outside Natrona County, hospital interim CEO J.J. Bleicher said. Those patients are now being transferred out of state.
“We expect this to continue for several weeks, based on COVID projections in our community,” hospital spokesperson Kristy Bleizeffer said.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
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