Empty Jackson Streets

A man walks down Center Street in April, two days after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Teton County. Many businesses across Jackson and Teton County were forced to close following public health orders but now, as cases spike and the hospital nears capacity, town councilors, county commissioners and health officials all appear averse to another full shutdown.

Cases of COVID-19 in Wyoming have modestly declined in the past two weeks, but the situation in Teton County remains tenuous.

According to data compiled by The New York Times, on Tuesday the rolling seven-day average total number of new daily cases in Wyoming had fallen about 26% in the past 14 days to 549. The total number of active cases in the state Wednesday was 7,709, with 152 in Teton County.

During the same 14-day period that cases trended downward, hospitalizations tracked higher, rising 19% to 239.

Karen Connelly, chief communications officer for St. John’s Health, said Wednesday afternoon that the hospital’s intensive care unit remained full, with three COVID-19 patients and three others, and that the primary care unit had 20 patients, half of them with COVID-19. The hospital has instituted daily meetings with front-line staff to manage the high number of patients.

That group is exploring where else in the building St. John’s could put patients should the need arise.

St. John’s CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre went before elected officials Tuesday to explain how dire the situation is at Jackson’s hospital. Though it may have space for more patients, quarantines and active infections have lowered the number of staffers able to care for them.

There is one piece of potentially good news, Connelly said. The Abbott Laboratories rapid-testing equipment the hospital has been expecting for months may soon arrive.

“That capability is necessary when we are seeing an influx of sick people in the hospital,” she said.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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