COVID-19 Testing

Evan Scott and Alli MacDonald of the Covid-19 Surge Team sort coronavirus specimen collection kits brought in by a courier on Sept. 4 at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory in Cheyenne. The Surge Team members were brought on to help process the massive numbers of tests brought in to the lab from state wide health facilities.

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A handful of states, plus the District of Columbia, have put strict restrictions on travelers coming from areas with COVID-19 surges, which now includes Wyoming.

Wyomingites hoping to travel to Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or Washington D.C. will be asked to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival, according to the most recent data from The New York Times.

Five other states have situational quarantine protocols. In Kansas, visitors who recently attended a 500-person event without masks or social distancing will be required to quarantine upon arrival. Travelers to Vermont are permitted to do their 14 days before they leave for the trip, provided they travel by car and make only necessary stops—while masked—on their journey.

Hawaii is instituting a testing procedure so visitors don’t have to quarantine, so long as their test result comes back negative. Massachusetts is also allowing visitors to forgo a quarantine if they can produce a negative test result.

New Hampshire asks that anyone travelling from a non-New England state — regardless of the rate of infection — self-quarantine for 14 days. Alaska is simply requiring the quarantine of all visitors.

Some states, like New York, are issuing fines for travelers who violate the protocols.

Wyoming currently has no travel restrictions in place for out-of-state visitors.

Wyoming’s inclusion in the list of surging states is relatively new. A month ago, the state was reporting fewer than 500 confirmed active cases of COVID-19. As of Friday, there were 1,741.

Four times in the month of October, the state has set new records for new COVID-19 cases, most recently Friday, with 290 new cases added in a single day. Hospitalizations have also skyrocketed from where they were a month ago. There were 16 people hospitalized because of the virus on Sept. 15. As of Oct. 15, 51 people were hospitalized statewide.

The rise in hospitalizations prompted Wyoming Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital, to open its COVID-19 surge unit this week and call a press conference, where health officials stressed the importance of mask wearing and social distancing.

In response to the surge, Gov. Mark Gordon has deployed the Wyoming National Guard to assist with contact tracing efforts. He issued a statement Friday saying those efforts will not include enforcement.

The state has also launched a free, at-home testing program, worth more than $9 million, using CARES Act money. The state’s standing public health orders have been extended through the end of October.



Photos: A visit to the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory

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Follow local government reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @morganhwrites

This article originally ran on trib.com.

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