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Evanston, Wyoming experiences COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 00:54:09-04

EVANSTON, Wyo. -- Health officials in Wyoming are concerned after a recent spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19. It is believed the outbreak was caused by a lapse in social distancing.

For months, it appeared Uinta County would avoid the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

From February until early June, the county reported 10 confirmed cases of the virus.

Now, the county has 120 cases.

“We were seeing so little and feeling really confident,” said Kim Proffit, the nurse manager with Uinta Co. Public Health. “We had increased almost tenfold in two weeks’ time. Now we are cumulative up to 120.”

Contact tracers believe the outbreak started on Memorial Day weekend with large, indoor gatherings.

“A lot of things started to point back to some parties at some bars,” Proffit said. “A few nights of maybe slightly careless behavior, less caution than maybe we should have been taking and now we are in a state of where we are a little bit overwhelmed.”

Health officials are not naming the establishments where the outbreak may have originated.

The biggest fear is that Evanston’s lone hospital won’t be able to handle the demand if the outbreak worsens.

“We have three ICU beds and it wouldn’t take much to fill those up,” Proffit said. “If there ever was a time for caution, this is it.”

Per capita, Uinta County has an infection rate of 718 per 100,000. That aligns closely with Salt Lake County’s rate of 798 per 100,000.

Proffit warns, if residents don’t take this development seriously, the county could consider drastic measures to curb a crisis.

“Think a lot about where you’re going, especially if it's indoors and there’s not the greatest ventilation,” Proffit said. “Our county, we’re having some discussions. Do we need to take a step back? Do we need to close down and restrict our gatherings?”

Anyone in Uinta County who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have come into contact with a sick person is urged to seek testing.

Proffit says the state of Wyoming has supplied adequate resources to keep up with demand.