Second Teton Case of COVID-19 is Health Care Worker with Travel History

Officials have released additional information about the second case of COVID-19 confirmed Friday in Teton County. Notably, they do not believe it is linked to the first diagnosis. The patient […]
Global Coronavirus Spread

by | Mar 20, 2020 | COVID-19, Health, News

Officials have released additional information about the second case of COVID-19 confirmed Friday in Teton County. Notably, they do not believe it is linked to the first diagnosis.

The patient is a health care worker at St. John’s Health who was likely exposed to coronavirus during domestic travel, according to a press release issued Saturday by St. John’s Health and the Teton County Health Department. Wyoming Department of Health investigated the case after a private lab diagnosed the patient.

At the onset of symptoms, more than one week ago, the patient self-isolated, continues to self-isolate and “is feeling much better at this time,” Karen Connelly, chief communications officer for St. John’s Health, said in the press release.

Dr. Paul Beaupre, CEO of St. John’s Health, says although the patient likely did not contract the virus at the hospital, the diagnosis is a reminder of the risks health care workers are increasingly facing in the age of COVID-19. “Just as we believe that COVID-19 is likely present at high rates in our community, we know that health care workers are at extremely high risk for exposure, even though this provider does not appear to have been exposed at work,” he said. “Our healthcare workers deserve great respect from all of us for the job they are doing to take care of our community during this pandemic.”

Beaupre urged people to respect the provider’s privacy “as we would respect the privacy of any other patient.”

He also called for folks to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 (through social distancing, limiting contact with others, practicing fastidious personal hygiene) so that Jackson’s health infrastructure is not overwhelmed.

The hospital needs to maintain its “ability to take care of sick people and provide other vital services, such as delivering babies and providing care for people with stroke, heart attack, etc.,” he said.

Earlier this week, the first local case was diagnosed by the Wyoming Department of Health. The patient is a man “over the age of 60.” He has been self-isolating since he became ill, health officials announced Wednesday. Now, officials are working to trace all the people with whom he came in contact, including visitors who are no longer in the Jackson area. But the “actual source may not be able to be confirmed,” a press release issued by Teton County Health Department said Thursday.

People with a fever, cough “or influenza-like illness,” should either call their physician or St. John’s Health for a telehealth evaluation: 307-739-4898 and select option 3. Folks exhibiting such symptoms are encouraged to do this regardless of travel history. Those who may have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should also call their doctors.

St. John’s Health is opening a medical tent outside its emergency room on Monday to address the rising need for testing. This site is not a walk-up service, however. Patients will need to first call their provider or the number above and obtain a telehealth evaluation. If a physician determines a person should be tested for COVID-19, the patient will either be asked to visit the medical tent or St. John’s Home Health team will schedule a home visit.

Statewide, Wyoming has confirmed 23 cases of COVID-19. They are in Teton, Sheridan, Park, Laramie, Fremont, Campbell and Carbon counties. So far 461 people have been tested in the state and screenings “will continue to expand statewide, so we can expect the number of confirmed cases to increase,” Governor Mark Gordon tweeted Saturday.

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn launched KHOL's news department. She has worked as a reporter and editor in Wyoming for the last decade and her work has aired on NPR stations throughout the West. When she's not sweating deadlines, Robyn sustains her nomadic heart by traveling the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow @TheNomadicHeart

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