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Wyoming: Ample coronavirus-testing capacity after 1st case

March 12, 2020 - 9:47 AM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Wyoming health officials expect to have ample capacity to keep testing for the new coronavirus after a woman from northwestern Sheridan County became the state's first person to test positive for the illness, authorities said Thursday.

Confirmation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of Wednesday's state test result was pending. The woman travelled outside Wyoming in the U.S. recently and health officials were investigating who may have had close contact with her.

No additional details about the woman, including her condition and whether she is hospitalized, were being disclosed, said Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti.

As of Thursday, 16 others in Wyoming had tested negative for the virus causing the COVID-19 disease. They included 15 whose samples came back negative from the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory in Cheyenne, which began testing March 5, and one negative result from the CDC.

The COVID-19 virus' symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 61,000 have so far recovered.

People in Wyoming who think they need a coronavirus test should visit a healthcare provider, Deti said, but not all who want a test would necessarily get one.

Wyoming health officials were prioritizing testing for people who have recently travelled internationally, had contact with somebody with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or who were hospitalized with a severe illness.

People over 65 and those with chronic illness and/or compromised immune systems also were priorities, according to the department.

The department-run laboratory has hundreds of test kits, Deti said.

"We have enough supplies to meet demand for some time to come. We're in pretty good shape for now," Deti said.

The new coronavirus prompted precautions in Wyoming well before Wednesday. The University of Wyoming has cancelled study abroad in China and South Korea this summer and prohibited university travel to or through those countries, Iran and Italy.

Students and university personnel returning from those four countries have been told self-isolate for 14 days to make sure they do not have the COVID-19 virus according to university rules.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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