Sweetwater County Board of Health Discusses COVID-19

Sweetwater County Board of Health Discusses COVID-19

Sweetwater County Board of Health Chairperson Donald West encouraged public health employees to take time off to take care of themselves. Zoom photo

ROCK SPRINGS — During the Sweetwater County Board of Health meeting this morning, the board heard an update on the COVID-19 Coronavirus efforts taking place in Sweetwater County, including the mask mandate, contact tracing, and possible vaccines.

Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon said her time has been taken up with COVID-19 activities as she has been meeting with Southwest Wyoming industry, both school districts, and the hospital representatives.

“I put in for a countywide masking mandate,” Stachon said.

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The mask mandate was written weeks ago and was based mostly on what other counties’ orders in the state looked like.

“I found out yesterday afternoon that ours went through,” Stachon said. “Enforcement is out of our hands.”

I don’t think that anyone was surprised that this came out yesterday afternoon because it has been talked about for quite some time.”

~ Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon

To read the mask mandate in its entirety scroll through the document below.

Contract Tracing

Sweetwater County Public Health Director Kim Lionberger said their priority is to contact positive patients as quick as possible.

They have 18 additional nurses and other professional staff to help with contract tracing. They also have eight additional employees who basically call those who have tested positive because it was too overwhelming for Dr. Stachon to call 40 to 70 people daily.

The contract tracers are about 48 to 72 hours behind in contacting positive cases and getting their isolation orders to them.

“I feel we have ramped up the staff to be able to help with it and it’s still pretty hard to keep up with,” Lionberger said.

With the state, results come back from 6 am to 10 pm daily.

She also discussed hazard pay through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, October, November and December. Lionberger said the exempt employees are receiving time and a half and overtime for their hours, but they are having a hard time finding time to take comp and vacation time.

Board member Kathy Luzmoor said she’s concerned about physical and mental health of the employees She said they need to take the time off even just for a couple of days. She’s concerned the employees are getting burnt out.

Donald West said the virus isn’t going to go away even if they work 24/7, it’s still not going to go away.

“It’s going to be here for a while unfortunately, but do your best,” West said.

Vaccines

Lionberger said they ordered ultra cold storage for the vaccine that requires very cold storage. She also said there is a vaccine that doesn’t need to be stored in an ultra cold storage. They have ordered an ultra cold freezer just in case that is the vaccine chosen for the state.

“We don’t get to pick and chose what vaccine gets picked for our state,” Lionberger said.

The vaccine will be given to healthcare workers first and the general public will probably not receive the vaccine until the spring or summer of 2021.