Despite COVID-19 fatigue, Wyoming health officer asks for commitment to community safety

The Wyoming Department of Health reported the largest single day increase of laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state on Thursday, June 25.

36 new lab confirmed cases were reported, bringing the total to 1,052. There are also 274 probable cases in Wyoming. 20 deaths have been reported in the state.

While health officials continue to encourage people to practice social distancing and wear face coverings when around other people, Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon acknowledged that some people may be feeling some fatigue from hearing about COVID-19 on a regular basis.

“We know many of you are tired of hearing about COVID-19,” Stachon said in a letter to local businesses. “We’re tired too. But, we have a responsibility in the interest of public health and safety to share with everyone what we’re seeing here locally on the front lines of this pandemic.”

“While we certainly don’t want to exaggerate the dangers or monger unjustified fear and panic, our recent dramatic and unprecedented spike in positives cases reminds us that this disease still poses a significant risk to our community.”

Stachon said that COVID-19 has come with social and economic costs that are difficult for many.

“Over the last three months, we’ve seen a number of our friends, family and neighbors, many of whom simply can’t afford to pay their bills without reporting to work, forced out of their jobs and into quarantine due to a preventable exposure,” she said. “We’ve watched as a handful of our local businesses have had to close their doors to customers and lose yet more revenue because of staffing issues related to avoidable outbreaks at their establishments.”

Stachon said that in Sweetwater County, contact tracing efforts which aim to locate how COVID-19 is spreading in the community has been tied to poor social distancing practices at large family gatherings, bars and outdoor events.”

“We simply can’t afford to continue adding to the price we’ve already paid as a community by acting complacent, selfish or irresponsible,” she continued. “We must continue to work together to protect and preserve our community and its stakeholders.”

“We want everyone to spend time outside, to interact with one another in meaningful ways and to support our community by shopping locally, but we have to stay healthy in order to keep our doors open for business and remain economically solvent. Our livelihoods depend on it.”

Stachon said she expects COVID-19 will continue to spread and that this will pose significant obstacles until a vaccine or “viable therpeutic” is available.

“Most will recover without complication; fate and fortune may very well be far less gratuitous to others,” she added. “We understand this. We expect to see more cases over time, and we are in a better position to respond now than before.”

“The only way to minimize risk, mitigate fallout and keep our doors open for business is to commit to working together and holding each other accountable to following the recommended health guidelines and best practices. These simple actions and choices might not seem like a big deal at the time, but it’s these same behaviors that can harm others and quickly change the dynamics of this disease in our community.”

Stachon said that some people may regard the health guidelines as burdensome, but added, “I have little doubt that there is room for improvisation and creativity in finding new ways to enjoy old activities in a manner that respects the health and safety of all of us.”

“As business owners and community leaders, it’s imperative that we all take a leadership role in policing ourselves and working together to get through this.”

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