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Local health agencies are prepared to handle COVID-19

  • Category: Health & Wellness
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Deb Sutton, Sweetwater Memorial PIO
Local health agencies are prepared to handle COVID-19

Hotline established for up-to-date information

Is Sweetwater County prepared to handle an outbreak of COVID-19?

Yes, according to Sweetwater County’s emergency preparedness and infection control professionals.

“Sweetwater County Emergency Management is in contact with the State Response Coordination Center (SRCC), as well as Sweetwater County Public Health and others as we monitor the situation,” said Judy Roderick, Sweetwater County Emergency Management Coordinator.

“We are advising individuals to use the same preventative measures as they would with other viruses: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; stay home if you’re sick; avoid close contact with people who are sick; cover your cough or sneeze; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces,” she said.

The county’s emergency management team has established a hotline for people to call in and hear up to date information – the number is (307) 922-5377.

At Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, the emergency management plan has been reviewed and updated per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, said Noreen Hove, Infection Prevention and Risk & Compliance Director.

“The hospital’s emergency management team is monitoring the CDC website and is working with the Public Health agency here in Rock Springs,” Hove said. “Sweetwater Memorial is prepared to take care of patients.”

For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low, the CDC reported Friday. However, it’s important to note that current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. In that case, the risk assessment would be different.

Wyoming currently has no reported cases of the coronavirus.


Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

What has been done to ensure public healthcare agencies are prepared?

The Sweetwater County Health Officer, Public Health Office and Sweetwater Memorial are monitoring daily COVID-19 numbers, both in the United States and internationally. Plus, there are weekly calls with the CDC and the Wyoming State Health Officer.

Does the hospital and/or public health have enough resources and supplies?

Yes, at this time, according to Kim Lionberger, Sweetwater County Public Health Director. There is adequate response resources for public health personnel.

MHSC also has enough supplies on hand. “We have looked at our resources and are coordinating with local and state agencies,” Hove said.

Should the general public wear face masks as a precaution?

No, according to Dr. Jean Stachon, Sweetwater County Health Officer, and the CDC. People who are well do not need to wear a mask to protect against COVID-19. Only wear a mask if your healthcare professional recommends it.

What is COVID-19?

It is a new coronavirus that had not been previously identified. It is not the same as the coronavirus that commonly circulates among humans and causes mild illness, like the common cold, according to the CDC. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses.

What are the symptoms?

Current symptoms reported for patients have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing, according to the CDC. The mortality rate for the flu is currently at 5.6% while the mortality rate for COVID-19 is 2.6%.

If COVID-19 requires hospitalization, MHSC is prepared. “We will provide care as required to ensure as a quick recovery, following best practice and recommendations by the CDC,” Hove said.

How will healthcare providers know if I have COVID-19?

Individuals who have symptoms will have respiratory samples taken and those will be sent to the CDC for testing, according to Sweetwater County Public Health Response Coordinator Karla Roich.

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China and other heavily affected countries, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact.

How can I protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

How does COVID-19 spread?

It spreads mainly from person to person; between people who are in close contact with one another – within about 6 feet. It spreads via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs, according to the CDC.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own T-zone (mouth, nose, or eyes), but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.