Elected officials discuss COVID-19 precautions

Teton County Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell speaks during a special joint meeting with town and county officials Monday afternoon, March 16, 2020, at Town Hall. “This is the biggest decision I’ve made in my professional career,” Dr. Riddell said about the prospect of implementing countywide health orders. “I hope there’s no bigger decision that follows this.”

Health officials don’t know how the first Jackson coronavirus patient was infected.

“There is no identifiable source for the patient’s exposure to COVID-19 at this time,” the Teton County Health Department said.

Officials announced the 60-year-old Teton County man’s positive test Wednesday evening and said two of his family members are in quarantine at home. He “had contact with several visitors who are no longer in the area,” the health department said in a release, but “the actual source may not be able to be confirmed.”

Teton County Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell said the first positive test was “disappointing, but in no way surprising.”

“We’ve been operating under the assumption that this has been in the community for weeks now,” Dr. Riddell said. “One positive test does not change that approach.”

Riddell has been on the front line of Jackson Hole’s response to the pandemic, ordering the closure of many businesses this week to prevent the spread of the virus.

“All of us in our daily lives are in proximity to other people, we’re in proximity to surfaces on which the virus might exist,” Riddell said. “Moving forward, I think we may have many circumstances where we’re unable to determine someone’s exposure.”

In the face of 18 confirmed cases across Wyoming, on Thursday State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, backed by Gov. Mark Gordon, ordered the closure of a wide range of public places for two weeks. Victor, Idaho’s city council followed suit. See page 6 for more on the Wyoming order.

St. John’s Health is suspending all elective procedures “for the foreseeable future” to conserve resources.

Riddell said he’s heartened by the talented Jackson residents “working on this from many angles.”

“We have a lot of resources in this community that can help folks in need,” Riddell said. “It feels to me this community is pulling together in an extraordinary way, and it’s an amazing thing to see.”

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Contact Johanna Love at 732-7071 or jlove@jhnewsandguide.com.

Johanna Love steers the newsroom as editor. Her time off is occupied by kid, dog, biking, camping and art. She loves to hear from readers with story tips, kudos, criticism and questions.

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