Public Health: ‘We are at a turning point’ with pandemic spread

JACKSON, Wyo. — It’s the day or two or more that’s the killer. For 24 to 48 hours after you first contract COVID, you won’t know it. You’ll feel fine. You’ll go out. You’ll infect 2-3 more (on average) and the virus lives on in new hosts. Most young enough and strong enough to fight it off. Others, not so much.

This is how a pandemic hangs around. It bides its time. It waits for an invitation—that moment of carelessness.

With the number of hospital admissions, the total number of new cases, contact tracing, and community spread all on the rise, the bad news is we are back to “Red.”

“We are at a turning point for our community,” said county health director Jodie Pond. “We are asking all community members to decrease their viral footprint by reducing the amount they are moving around the community.”

The Teton County Health Department today announced that the disturbing trend means the community has now regressed to the High Risk level, or Red.

“This means we have widespread transmission of COVID-19 in our community and stress on our healthcare system,” said Rachel Wheeler, Teton County Health Department’s response coordinator. “Additionally, we are currently maxing out our contact tracing capabilities.”

Teton District Health Officer Travis Riddell, MD, MPH, stated, “The last week we have seen alarming increases in COVID-19 activity in Teton County, Wyoming. We have set new records for daily new cases (the incidence of this virus) and current active cases (the prevalence of this virus). Combined with the ongoing outbreak in the Living Center, this is putting considerable stress on our healthcare system.”

Even as some restrictions have eased, Teton County has the unique burden of playing host to millions of visitors from across the country as a world-renowned travel destination—an industry that has barely slacked in the past few months.

However, metrics indicate locals are giving COVID to each other.

According to Pond, the latest data suggests people are getting COVID from people they know and not strangers.

“When people choose to hang out with friends or visiting family and friends, they can be inadvertently spreading COVID-19.  The 24-48-hour window before a person starts showing symptoms can be when they are the most contagious,” Pond said.

Teton County Health Department says the following guidelines are in place and especially important as we enter into a colder season where more time is spent indoors in closer quarters:

  • Wear a mask when entering buildings, standing in lines, or in places where 6 feet of physical distancing space cannot be maintained.
  • Stay home when sick, even with mild signs and symptoms.
  • Reduce your trips to the grocery store, post office or other errands.
  • Keep groups sizes small and make sure that physical distancing space is maintained.
  • Frequently wash your hands.
  • Follow Statewide and Countywide Health Orders, Recommendations and Guidelines.
  • Work from Home if Possible.
  • Limit exposure to others outside of your immediate family outside of school and work.

For the latest statistics, refer to COVID-19 cases in Teton County.

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