COVID-19 spike tripled confirmed cases in Uinta County

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state epidemiologist, urges continued caution at the Tuesday press conference. COURTESY PHOTO

2 confirmed cases in Bridger Valley

UINTA COUNTY — Uinta County’s confirmed cases tripled in a short time and the latest map on late Tuesday showed the county now had 80 cases.

Since the first positive case in Uinta County was confirmed on April 1, the number of positive cases had slowly ticked up to a total of 10 confirmed and only one active by June 3. The mushroom in cases, according to Uinta County Public Health Nurse Manager Kim Proffit, the spike in cases have been traced through a contact tracing which revealed a likely “super spreader” event at a large gathering held in Evanston on May 30, which many of the positive cases attended. In addition, there were also a couple of smaller events, which have been traced due to a few cases.

Proffit also verified Tuesday afternoon there were two active cases in Bridger Valley. Bridger Valley has basically steered clear of confirmed cases during this time when the Wyoming’s first confirmed case was identified in March.

Governor Mark Gordon addressed the spike in Uinta County in his press conference Tuesday afternoon. He said the spike in Uinta County was tied to large public gathering involving young people where social distancing guidelines weren’t followed. He also urged people to follow the guidelines as the state “wanted to continue to go forward. You have all done the right thing.”

However, the ability to maintain this progress is dependent on the people of Wyoming, he said.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state epidemiologist, said she had no particular details on the public gathering. Harrist did say the large group wasn’t following the restrictions and urged people to remember, “…not only affect people there, but also affects people they associate with.”

However, Proffit had posted on the UC Public Health Facebook sometime on Monday, “Don't want anyone to panic, but we do want you to know what is going on, and we do wish to advise some common-sense measures when out in public spaces to keep yourselves safe,” and then listed the advice which has been given repeatedly such as wearing facemasks, social distancing and using sanitizer.

Proffit also added, “At this time the majority of these new cases fall into the category of the 20-29 age group. Most report some illness, some moderately severe, including high fevers, painful body aches, and difficulty breathing. A few have had only minor symptoms, like loss of sense of taste or smell and a slight headache. There has been one hospitalization that we know of.”

During Tuesday’s press conference, Gordon was asked if the state was considering reinstituting some of the restrictions. He said they state was not considering this at this time; he and Dr. Harrist hadn’t even discussed this issue. He did mention Utah, with its increase in cases, was considering putting some of the restrictions back in force.

Gordon did say the state appeared to be starting to make a comeback with tourism and some communities are making plans for summer. He urged the communities include the safety precautions to make Wyoming a place people want to visit and which they would want to return. He also said the sales tax revenues and some other revenues were increasing.

He addressed the state’s financial situation, noted the problems wouldn’t miraculously disappear and the state would still have to face the problems. But, Gordon said, “Wyoming has a bright future.”

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