• This is not a panic situation in Wyoming.
  • Wash your hands.
  • The novel coronavirus (COVID19) has not been confirmed or suspected in Wyoming.
  • It likely will get here.
  • It seems to be spread by droplets and is not airborne.
  • The situation is constantly changing.
  • The elderly, especially those with other health problems, are more likely to die from the disease.
  • This is not a panic situation in Wyoming.
  • Wash your hands.

Dr. Ghazi Ghanem, co-director of infection control at the Wyoming Medical Center, had two other pieces of advice.

1. "Do not freak out."

2. "Help us not spread this around."

Ghanem addressed issues about COVID-19 during a news conference at the hospital on Wednesday along with Natrona County Health Officer and infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Dowell, Casper-Natrona County Health Department Director Anna Kinder and hospital emergency room director Dr. Ron Iverson.

COVID-19 is now a pandemic, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December and now has spread to 109 countries with 116,000 confirmed cases and about 4,200 deaths, according to the WHO.

In the United States, 38 states and the District of Columbia have confirmed 928 cases with 29 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday.

Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota have reported up to 32 cases as of Wednesday, according to the CDC.

Wyoming, local governments, hospitals and health care providers have been preparing for such an event, and people should carry on as usual, the speakers said.

"We're doing this proactively," Dowell said.

Knowledge of the disease, how it spreads and who it affects has been growing daily, and preparations probably will evolve as well, the speakers said.

The best preparation is prevention, and that means practicing personal hygiene, wiping surfaces, and not going to work or school while sick, they said.

Kinder said the state is developing a hot line for people to call, and the others said talking with a doctor by phone is the best way to start if they have a cough or a fever.

The health care provider at the other end of the line can evaluate their situation because going to the emergency room is not a good place to start, Iverson said.

Unless the symptoms are severe warranting immediate help, going to the emergency room, or the waiting room of a private practitioner, will enhance transmission, Dowell added.

Likewise, they added people do not need nor should they insist on getting tested unless the symptoms are severe.

Dowell said a vaccine is being researched, but it would be about a year before it is ready for manufacturing and distribution.

On a larger scale, they again insisted that people should not panic.

Dowell said the governor of Wyoming will do what he wants, but the governor of Colorado made a bad move when he declared a state of emergency. "That sends a panic message," he said.

 

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Ghanam and Dowell explained that a virus is a living organism made of DNA  (deoxyribonucleic acid), or in the case of COVID-19, RNA (ribonucleic acid). Unlike bacteria that live independently, a virus depends on other cells. So when a virus enters the body, it injects its RNA into a cell, destroys the cell, starts replicating and the body's immune system begins to fight it. If a body is healthy, the immune system kills the virus. But if the body is dealing with other health issues, the virus can spread, they said.

COVID-19 can exists for up to about five days outside the body, and is killed by cleaning surfaces, they said.

Masks don't work against infections and only keep a sick person from spreading the virus.

The toilet paper hoarding is a whole different issue, they said.

"The idea that the community bought out every single wipe known to man and every roll of toilet paper; especially the toilet paper, gave us all a big laugh," Dowell said.

"Come on guys, you don't need to hoard toilet paper in our community," he said. "Please, I understand you buying wipes, but I don't understand the toilet paper."

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