Pandemic far from over, Teton County back in ‘red’

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — As some health professionals predicted, COVID has made a rebound both locally, and statewide. With winter coming and more time spent indoors in close quarters, a real fear is the coronavirus could gain a strong foothold in the valley and put a burden on community hospitals.

In response to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, the Teton County Health Department announced a return to ‘Red,’ or high risk level. Teton County is experiencing its largest increase in new cases to date with 158 new cases within the last two weeks (October 21 through November 3).

As of November 4, 2020, there were 104 known active cases, and there has been a total of 873 cases in Teton County, Wyoming. And, with visitation eased now, the metrics show it is mostly us giving COVID to each other.

Sixty percent of people who have tested positive in recent weeks have reported close contact with another known positive case. Due to this, Teton County Health Department is urging everyone to significantly limit close contact with people outside of their household. Community spread of COVID-19 within the valley is still a significant concern, with ­­­37 percent of cases unable to identify where they may have been exposed.

“Based on the percentage of cases that have been identified as a close contacts of another known positive case, we are asking community members to evaluate how they are interacting with coworkers, friends and family who both live in Teton County and who are visiting. If you are in a close, confined space with others, please wear a mask,” said Teton District Health Officer Travis Riddell, MD, MPH. “When people feel comfortable letting down their guard on personal protective measures that’s when we begin to see more cases.”

As we move towards the winter, health officials are asking everyone to reduce contact with people outside of their households, and to please wear masks when in indoor confined spaces.

Contact tracing resources at the local Health Department have been expanded since the beginning of the summer but are currently facing significant strain with the number of new cases each day. Contact tracing is a crucial step in preventing further transmission of the virus.  The inability to perform timely contact tracing would put the community at even greater risk.

If close contacts of cases are not able to be identified and quarantined, it could result in more infectious individuals interacting with others before they show symptoms.

To decrease the spread of COVID-19 in Teton County, the Teton District Health Officer is urging the public to take all the precautions that are described below.

  • Limit exposure to others outside of your household, school, and work.
  • Work from home if possible. Phone and video chats are encouraged in place of in-person meetings. Within offices and businesses, stagger schedules and sanitize spaces and objects at least daily.
  • Travel for essential purposes only and limit contact with others in public places. Self-monitor symptoms for 14 days upon return. When traveling areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases should be avoided.
  • Follow physical distancing measures:
    – Always maintain a 6-foot distance from other individuals when in public, even when wearing a mask.
    – Wear a cloth face covering in public when you cannot maintain 6-foot physical distancing.
    – Refrain from shaking hands with other individuals
    – Do not visit friends or family without urgent need.
    – Do not attend non-essential gatherings.
  • Follow strict hygiene standards including:
    – Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible.
    – Use hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol based) when soap and water are not available.
    – Cover coughs or sneezes into the elbow or sleeve, not hands.
    – Regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces (buttons, door handles, counters, etc.)
    – Stay home when sick, even with mild symptoms.
  • Avoid physical interactions with high-risk individuals as much as possible.
  • No non-essential visits to hospital, nursing homes and other residential care facilities.
  • Do not participate in or arrange in-person playdates or similar activities. All symptomatic children should stay home.
  • Reduce your trips to the grocery store and other errands. Only send one person per household.
  • Contactless, curbside, delivery, takeout, and virtual services are strongly encouraged.
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces.
  • Do not congregate at trail heads, parks, or other outdoor spaces.
  • Continue to follow other State and County Health Orders, Recommendations and Guidelines.

About The Author

Buckrail

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