A Campbell County woman in her 60s has been confirmed as Wyoming's 25th coronavirus-related death.
Campbell County Public Health Director Jane Glaser said she was notified Friday of a potential COVID-related death in the community.
The state Department of Health announced the death Tuesday afternoon. The department said the woman did not have any of the underlying health conditions known to put patients at a higher risk for coronavirus complications and she had not been hospitalized.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Glaser said about the county's first death from COVID-19. “We’ve lost a community member.”
Campbell County has had 78 confirmed coronavirus cases so far, and 68 of them have recovered. The Department of Health also reports Campbell County has 19 probable cases of the virus, and 14 of them have recovered.
The 78 confirmed cases for Campbell County includes 35 cases this month.
In the past nine days, Campbell County has had seven new cases, including a woman in her 70s, a woman in her 30s, a man in his 50s, a man in his 40s, two men in their 30s and a woman in her 20s. They all are quarantining at home.
Public Health also is monitoring 36 people who have been identified as contacts of positive cases.
County spokeswoman Ivy McGowan-Castleberry said the woman in her 20s had a driver’s license that had a Gillette address, but she technically lives in another county. McGowan-Castleberry expects this case to be transferred to that county Wednesday.
No cases traced back to large community events
No coronavirus cases can be traced back to the three largest events in the community that have happened in the last month or so, officials report.
In early June, Glaser said the next six weeks would reveal a lot about how well the community can prevent the spread. With high school graduations, the state GOP convention and the Fourth of July celebration all lined up to happen — events with hundreds and even thousands of people in attendance — there was the potential for spread.
At the start of the July, there were 43 cases. By July 6, that number had jumped to 61. Since then, there have been 17 new cases.
Tuesday, Glaser said she was “really relieved” when she learned that no cases could be traced back to graduation, the Fourth of July or the Republican convention.
“People took it seriously,” she said about the need for public health precautions.
There was a spike of 13 cases that came in over the Fourth of July weekend. Nearly all of those cases could be traced back to four private social events that happened in mid- to late June, Glaser said. The people who tested positive either attended one of those events or spent time with someone who went to one of those events.
Glaser said she’s “cautiously hopeful” about the next few weeks. She’s got her eye on the Campbell County Fair next week, the Aug. 18 primary election and the start of school Aug. 24. All of these have the potential for an outbreak, but there also are precautions in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
She commended the Campbell County School District for the way it handled graduation and for working to get kids back in school this fall.
She said she hopes the community rallies “behind prevention” in the next four weeks.
“It’s not always just about yourself. It’s about your neighbors, friends and everyone in our community,” she said. “We all have a responsibility to prevent the spread and protect one another.”
Glaser reminded people to remember “the three Ws.”
“Wash your hands, wear a mask whenever possible and watch your distance,” she said. “Those are really the only three things we know make a difference in the spread.”
The state reports 61,032 tests have been done on 43,605 people so far, including 2,480 in Campbell County. The local infection rate is at 2.66%.
Overall, Wyoming has had 1,830 confirmed and 408 probable cases with 1,371 and 323 recoveries, respectively. So far in July, the state has seen a surge of 646 cases, an increase of about 55%.
City requires employees to wear masks
The city of Gillette announced Tuesday that it's requiring employees to wear masks because of concerns over an increase of local cases, including a customer service employee who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
The announcement also came on the heels of the city learning about the first coronavirus-related death in Campbell County, Acting City Administrator Mike Cole told the City Council at Tuesday’s dinner pre-meeting.
City employees will be required to wear masks inside city buildings if they cannot maintain proper social distancing guidelines, such as being 6 feet apart. Masks also must be worn in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Mayor Louise Carter-King and the City Council members wore masks during Tuesday’s meeting.
“I think for the welfare of all of our employees it’s the right thing to do,” Carter-King said.
The customer service division, which was quarantined July 14 because of the employee contracting the coronavirus, is scheduled to re-open to the public Monday, city spokesman Geno Palazzari said.
Public Health gets CARES money
Campbell County Public Health has received more than $800,000 from the federal CARES Act, and most of it is to be spent on coronavirus testing.
The Wyoming Department of Health distributed the federal money to the state's 23 counties based on population. Campbell County’s grant, totaling $803,328, is to be spent on three things.
- $20,000 of it is set aside for staff salaries to support contact tracing and other activities the Public Health nurses have done in response to the pandemic.
- $20,000 will go to county Public Health Officer Dr. Kirtikumar Patel for the time he spent away from his private practice to focus on the pandemic.
- And $763,328 is to be spent on testing supplies.
Glaser said she’s waiting for recommendations from the state on which tests to buy. When the state makes its recommendations, Public Health can begin testing soon after. The grant also will cover the costs of transporting tests to a lab.