Four patients hospitalized in Powell as COVID numbers keep climbing

Posted 10/20/20

The novel coronavirus continues to spread through Park County at an accelerating pace, with the number of active COVID-19 cases roughly doubling in a week.

On Sunday, there were 178 people dealing …

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Four patients hospitalized in Powell as COVID numbers keep climbing


The novel coronavirus continues to spread through Park County at an accelerating pace, with the number of active COVID-19 cases roughly doubling in a week.

On Sunday, there were 178 people dealing with confirmed or probable infections, though a slew of new recoveries pushed that number back down to 137 on Monday. Both figures were up from 92 active cases on Oct. 12.

There were also four COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Powell Valley Healthcare on Monday — the most since the start of the pandemic — and two more at Cody Regional Health. Across the state, hospitals reported having 68 patients infected with COVID-19 in their care. That’s also the worst figure to date, among more than 2,450 active confirmed or probable cases in Wyoming.

The virus produces mild to moderate symptoms in most people, or no symptoms at all, but it can cause serious illness and, in rare cases, death. Out of 9,300-plus confirmed and probable cases among Wyoming residents since March, a total of 57 deaths have been connected to COVID-19.

Public health officials continue to urge people to practice social distancing, to wash hands frequently, to wear face coverings when coming into close contact with others and to stay home when sick to slow the spread of COVID-19. If the virus spreads too quickly, there’s concern that healthcare facilities will be overwhelmed — a worry that’s become reality in Montana. Staff at Billings Clinic told KTVQ-TV last week that the facility’s intensive care unit was “beyond capacity,” with more than half of their patients on ventilators.

COVID-19 has spread far more rapidly in Park County since early September. The county’s first 100 confirmed cases came over a span of 4 1/2 months; the last 100 came in just a week’s time. A daily record of 24 new positive cases on Sunday put the county over 400 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin said that during one recent day of COVID-19 testing at the Cody Stampede Rodeo grounds, 19% of the people tested positive; governments have generally sought to have positivity rates below 5%.

“So clearly, it is advantageous to have as many people as possible tested,” Billin said on Facebook, noting the availability of free, at-home tests in Wyoming (see related story below).

He added in a Sunday post that, “misinformation has been rampant during the pandemic,” and encouraged people to carefully evaluate what they hear about COVID-19.


Free at-home COVID tests available

GILLETTE (WNE) — At-home COVID-19 testing is being made available to Wyoming residents free of charge, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Wednesday afternoon.

Wyoming has bought 75,000 saliva tests using some of the state’s $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act money, with the ability to get more tests if needed. The tests will be distributed by Vault Health — the same company that’s assisted with testing among University of Wyoming students and faculty — and can be taken by people in their homes without an in-person health care provider visit required.

The free tests come at a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing throughout the state and as public officials have warned that the pandemic is not close to being over.

The free, at-home testing is “expected to improve Wyoming’s ability to track the pandemic,” a Wyoming Department of Health press release said.

Once a collection kit is ordered and received, the saliva is collected during an online telehealth visit with a Vault test supervisor. An internet connection is required for the online visit.

“This at-home, noninvasive testing option is another tool to help Wyoming slow the spread of this virus,” Gordon said in the press release. “It’s one more way we can help protect our vulnerable populations, keep businesses open, and make sure our hospital beds are available to those who need them.”

For more information — including to order a kit — visit

Additionally, residents who believe they’ve had COVID-19 can obtain free antibody testing when donating blood through Vitalant Blood Service. Those tests can indicate whether a person previously had the novel coronavirus by looking for certain antibodies.

Antibodies circulate in a person’s blood, searching for and destroying certain bacteria and viruses, Dr. Dean Bartholomew of 307Health explained in a recent newsletter.

“In order for this antibody to be specific though, your immune system has to have been exposed to the specific virus or bacteria before it can start mass producing these antibodies,” Bartholomew explained. “Hence, Coronavirus antibody tests will look for coronavirus specific antibodies … which are only present AFTER an exposure to the Coronavirus.”

Vitalant, which comes to Powell and Cody each month, will test donors’ blood for coronavirus antibodies for free.

“We all know of friends and family members who have likely benefited from a blood donation … so this is a true win-win for you and our community!” Bartholomew wrote.

For more information, visit

Antibody tests are not as reliable as viral tests and the CDC says they shouldn’t be used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection.

The CDC adds that, “Having antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 may provide protection from getting infected with the virus again. But even if it does, we do not know how much protection the antibodies may provide or how long this protection may last.” There have been a handful of documented cases where people have been reinfected with COVID-19.