CASPER, WYO. (AP) — The Wyoming Medical Center has reported that 21 of the facility’s 149 patients are being treated for the coronavirus, a record number for the state’s largest hospital.
The figure as of Wednesday has forced the facility to divert patients from outside the county unless they are suffering from heart attacks, strokes or traumatic injuries. The hospital accepts transfers from other communities because of its central location in the state and its ability to offer more robust services than smaller facilities can, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
The hospital was also forced to hold 17 patients in its emergency room because of a lack of space.
“This is not going to go away for the next several months,” said Dr. Mark Dowell, the Natrona County health officer. “I think it’s going to get a lot worse.”
The hospital treated anywhere between three to eight patients in the first months of the pandemic, the facility’s interim CEO Jim Bleicher said. In recent weeks, Bleicher said, the number of hospitalized patients at WMC has increased substantially.
The state began experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases in September that has not subsided. On Sept. 16, the state recorded its first day of more than 100 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases. Since Sept. 23, the state has recorded more than 100 new confirmed and probable cases in every day except two. The state has surpassed 200 new confirmed and probable cases two times.
Hospitalizations have increased across the state as well. As of Wednesday, 45 patients were hospitalized as a result of the coronavirus in Wyoming. As recently as early September, 13 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus. The state reported on Oct. 8 an all-time high in one day of 56 hospitalizations due to the virus.
The number of deaths has also increased statewide. Out of the 57 people who have died because of the coronavirus in Wyoming, 13 were announced in September, the most out of any prior month. The state has reported seven deaths as a result of the coronavirus in October as of Wednesday.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.