With a goal of supplementing the ongoing work of the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a “Community Protection Initiative” team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has arrived in the state for a temporary mission.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said she invited the CDC team to supplement the work her staff is doing to help slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Wyoming.
“The CDC indicated an interest in directing some of their staff toward protecting areas with relatively low levels of COVID-19 infections,” she said. “The idea is to help maintain lower levels of illness in locations that haven’t yet been overcome as in other areas of the country.”
Approximately five CDC team members will support WDH by through added efforts involving:
· Data systems and data analysis
· Prevention, infection control and containment of infections in long-term care facilities and psychiatric facilities
· Community mitigation and infection prevention and control among tribal communities
· Case identification and contact tracing
Harrist said her WDH team, together with local health partners, has been using contact tracing as a key strategy at every step. “We feel it’s been a helpful technique and one that our lower population has so far allowed to continue,” she said.
Clay Van Houten, Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit manager with WDH, said “Contact tracing involves following up to identify the close contacts of our laboratory-confirmed and probable cases to see who might also be at an increased risk of the illness. We offer advice to these people and use quarantine and isolation orders to help protect communities from further spread.”
Harrist noted personal actions such as following current public health orders meant to encourage people to stay home as much as possible remain critical.