Because of testing supply issues, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) will be limiting testing available through the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the department’s established priority patients and situations.
“It’s been clear for some time that materials needed for sample collection and testing are in very short supply in Wyoming and across the nation,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “We’ve done well so far at our lab, but our concern about supplies of certain materials we need for testing has grown.”
Harrist, who oversees the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory, said the lab will no longer accept samples from patients who do not fall within the department’s priority categories.
Through several health alert notices previously sent to Wyoming’s healthcare providers, WDH has described its testing priorities:
· Hospitalized patients (including hospitalized patients being tested prior to discharge to a long-term care facility)
· Patients or staff in communal settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities or shelters
· Healthcare workers and first responders who provide direct patient care
· People over 65 or with underlying health conditions that put them at risk for severe illness
· People who have close contact with people who are over 65 or who have underlying health conditions
· Pregnant women
Wyoming’s healthcare providers have been asked to send samples for other patients to private laboratories.
Harrist said, “We are hopeful the supply situation will improve, but in the meantime we must ensure timely testing is available when it can make the most difference to help meet our most critical needs.”
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Harrist acknowledged that not everyone who may have COVID-19 will be able to be tested. “We believe most people who become ill with this virus will experience mild illness and will be able to recover at home,” she said.
More information about COVID-19 and Wyoming can be found online here: https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/infectious-disease-epidemiology-unit/disease/novel-coronavirus/.