GREEN RIVER– The Green River City Council heard a presentation from member of the Sweetwater County Health Department during last night’s city council meeting.
Kim Lionberger, Director of the Sweetwater County District Board of Health, Karla Roich, Public Health Response Coordinator, Judy Roderick, Emergency Management, and Dr. Jean Stachon, County Health Officer were present at the meeting to update the council and answer questions.
Lionberger explained that the COVID-19 situation is very fluid and recommendations are changing frequently. However, she noted that social distancing is the thing they are pushing the most.
“The biggest thing that we want to stress at this time is the social distancing factor, and the importance of how it will help slow the spread so that the medical community is able to keep up with the cases as they come in in Sweetwater County,” Lionberger said.
She appreciated the City’s efforts to practice social distancing by closing City Hall to the public and having staff and the community watch the council meeting from home.
Dr. Stachon said if people are staying home and are not sick and resting, that they should make the most of it.
“Try to make a routine and try to be productive and make this time as pleasant as you can if you are stuck at home,” Dr. Stachon said.
Lionberger added that the situation is constantly changing. When they spoke with the Sweetwater County Commissioners Tuesday morning, there had been 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wyoming. There were 11 cases by the time they spoke with the Council, and there are 16 as of publishing time.
“It’s just a matter of time before we have a case here in Sweetwater County,” Lionberger said.
Be Aware of Rumors
Lionberger cautioned the council and the community to be aware of rumors circulating about positive coronavirus cases in Sweetwater County.
She said there are multiple different strains of coronavirus, and therefore some people are testing positive. However, they are not testing positive for COVID-19, which is the specific strain that is causing the current pandemic.
“You may hear, ‘oh my gosh, my neighbor just tested positive for coronavirus,’ and that may be true, but it is totally different than COVI-19 coronavirus,” Lionberger said.
“The common cold is coronavirus,” Dr. Stachon said.
What Happens if COVID-19 is Confirmed in Sweetwater County?
If someone in the county tests positive for COVID-19, those test results will be reported to the state before being filtered down to the local health department. The county health department will then conduct an investigation and find possible contacts, or people who came into contact with the person infected.
The person with COVID-19 will then go straight into home quarantine until the symptoms cease.
The idea is that, if you’re stick, you stay home unless hospitalization is necessary. This goes for even if you’re feeling sick but have not been tested for COVID-19. Samples for testing are even being collected outside the hospital so the virus is not being brought into the hospital.
Though testing is not being done locally, samples for testing are being collected at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and Cedars Health.
Depending on how the healthcare provider fills out the order slip for sample collection, people may be tested for influenza first, just COVID-19, or possibly for 20 different viral diseases. Those tests can cost up to $200, $125, and $1,200, respectively.
However, testing standards are changing all the time, according to Lionberger. She said with influenza season winding down, they may not have to test for influenza to rule it out and go straight to testing for COVID-19.
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, as of Wednesday afternoon, 181 tests have been completed at the Wyoming Public Health Labratory, one at the CDC lab, and 11 at commercial labs.
Lionberger said there are limited tests, and therefore people are classified as high-priority, mid-priority, and low-priority for testing. Priority is based on vulnerability, recent travel, symptoms, and possible contact with an individual who has tested positive.
“The turnaround for testing is going to depend on your priority at this time,” Lionberger said.