JACKSON, Wyo. — When the research lab where Christina Lucas studies neurodegenerative diseases closed due to COVID-19, the Jackson local suddenly had a lot of time on her hands.
It didn’t take long for her to fill it. Her background in reading and interpreting scientific literature, combined with her medical research experience (Lucas is a candidate for medical school), offered her an idea: a daily COVID-19 status report, of sorts, catered to certain industries and locations.
Lucas now makes two reports every day: one specific to Wyoming, and one for local, national, and international business owners. She spends at least three hours every morning compiling — and sometimes collecting — data, then sends the Wyoming report to anyone who wants it. So far, her followers include faculty at the University of Wyoming Faculty, member of the Governor’s office, and business owners around the world.
“I’m pleasantly surprised by how many people responded,” Lucas said.
Most of her data come from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Johns Hopkins University. Data for Wyoming has been more difficult to sift through, she said — it’s less consistent, and local healthcare facilities are not required to report hospital admissions to the Wyoming Department of Health, so there’s simply less to work with.
“For the last month or so, I’ve just been calling every single hospital [in Wyoming],” Lucas said. “Because a lot of small clinics aren’t reporting [regular hospital admissions], it’s really difficult for the state to have any idea of what our hospitals need.”
Lucas’s job (though she is making no money doing this) is just to present data as neutrally as possible. Still, after three months of documenting trends and projections, she has made a few observations herself:
“The thing that’s the most interesting to me is seeing how many different industries are being impacted,” Lucas said. “Just today [May 12], Twitter announced they were going to allow all employees to work from home for the foreseeable future. How many other industries are impacted by that? How will that change the entire work environment?”
As inconsistent as Wyoming’s data are, it’s hard to know exactly which projections to believe. Some projections predicted hundreds of deaths in the state. Others are now predicting fewer than 10 deaths (so far seven people have died from complications of coronavirus in Wyoming).
“There’s obviously some disparity in what is being communicated versus what’s being reported,” Lucas said. “The difficult part, as someone trying to create a report for people to interpret, is knowing what is actually true — where are they getting these numbers from?”
Lucas is at least fairly certain that Wyoming is not out of the weeds yet. “Even though states are choosing to open, the virus is still being spread,” she said. “It’s still very present in our community. The dangers are going to trickle into the summer months.”
Lucas’s reports are helping companies evaluate their safety protocols and reopening procedures, and offer a comprehensive snapshot of COVID-19 in the community. She’s offering them, free of charge, to anyone interested. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on her mailing list.