The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in Albany County as confirmed cases surpassed 1,000 this week, while the combined total of confirmed and probable cases rose to 1,214 by Friday afternoon.
A testament to the recent exponential increase in infections locally, active cases surged to 451, meaning more than 1 percent of the county population had the virus Friday afternoon.
The county’s statistics — available publicly on the Wyoming Department of Health’s website — mean that at least 1 out of every 32 people in the county has tested positive at some point between March and now. That includes University of Wyoming students, but it is by no means limited to the campus.
“I think we are at a place currently that we were hoping to avoid back in April and May,” County Public Health Officer Jean Allais said. “Overall, a higher number of active patients means that there are increased demands for testing, treatment, isolation and all the equipment and resources that are associated with COVID-19 treatment. Many patients are without symptoms, and for those people, the challenge is discipline with their isolation regimen.”
There is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. While several potential vaccines are being fast-tracked, the medical advice professionals and experts have shared since March has been aimed at slowing the spread and not overwhelming the healthcare system:
Wash your hands. Social distance. Wear a mask.
In Wyoming now, medical experts’ worst fear is being realized and the already strained nature of rural healthcare is being pushed to the limit. Hospitals in at least Cody, Casper and Laramie have hit capacity, or come near enough to it that some patients were sent out of state for care.
In Albany County, the virus is surging exponentially.
At Stitches Acute Care Center in Laramie, Chief Operating Officer Amy Surdam said her staff had braced for an increase in cases, but not the explosion of cases the county has seen throughout the last month.
“COVID just continues to shock and surprise us all and we continue to flex and adapt to whatever it throws at us,” Surdam said. “But it’s been exhausting and I just don’t see any end in the near future. What’s happening now — it’s kind of out of control. And there’s drastic community spread, a lot of asymptomatic patients, and there aren’t any countermeasures being mandated to slow what’s happening.”
Surdam said Stitches is hiring new staff as quickly as possible in response to the surge.
“You can’t just add 12 people if there’s only six people to train them,” she said. “So we have to add a few at a time, get them operational, then add a few at a time, get them operational.”