COVID Testing

County officials are asking that residents don’t use the rapid COVD test site unless they need to know results right away.

Though her virus symptoms were slight, registered nurse Lindsay Emerson had quite the roller coaster with COVID-19.

“I was very fortunate,” she said. “But I was out for 10 days with COVID. And then my daughter, she tested positive finally on the last day of her quarantine, then I was out for another 10 days.

“My husband still didn’t have it. So we were keeping everyone separated ... then my husband got it on [my daughter’s] last day of quarantine. He got it and then the same with my youngest. We literally were in quarantine for five weeks.”

Emerson saw her colleagues — fellow health care workers and mothers of young children who weren’t eligible for the vaccine — in pretty much the same boat.

“This is so brutal for nurses,” she said. “We’re on the front lines working and taking care of all these patients, and then if you get COVID, and you aren’t dialed, you’re hosed. It’s so scary.”

Regardless of how bad your infection is, the virus can make life pretty messy. So together with nurse Georgie McNiff, Emerson decided to do something to help nurses in Jackson Hole.

The idea started small — maybe raise enough money to pay the cost of rapid tests so nurses could have peace of mind. McNiff already worked with a private Boston-based company, Concierge Covid Testing, giving PCR rapid tests to wedding parties and international business travelers. Why not offer the same sense of security to people working in the trenches?

So they reached out to Mangy Moose owner David Yoder and Amy Gertsch, the Moose’s director of events, to see about throwing a fundraiser. As plans progressed for that event, which is set for this Saturday, the emphasis on nursing support blossomed into something more.

A former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of State, Gertsch returned to Jackson for a quieter lifestyle, but said she was “super honored” to support the creation of a new Jackson Hole Nurses Fund as an inaugural board member and its first director.

“Nurses are near and dear to my heart, because my sister’s a nurse. And she actually was an ICU nurse at St. John’s for a long time,” she said.

“When Georgie was telling me about what they’re going through with the COVID, you know, having to pay for the rapid test [and] quarantine issues. I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Gertsch said she and Yoder were eager to do what they could to help.

Over the course of their planning for this weekend’s fundraiser — which features TikTok singer Peach Martine and California rock band Zachariah and the Lobos Riders (more on them in Scene) — conditions for health care workers have improved slightly. The start of child vaccinations is reducing the need for quarantines, and low-cost rapid tests are becoming more accessible by the day.

Free rapid PCR tests with less than an hour turnaround are now available via in the future Target plaza testing location, immediately next to Subway in suites I and J.

Still, vaccine mandates are alienating workers from a profession already plagued by pandemic-prompted vacancies. Since February 2020 nearly 1 in 5 health care workers, or 18%, have quit their jobs, according to an October poll by Morning Consult. Other surveys point to burnout as the main factor, prompted by insufficient staffing, the intensity of workload, the emotional and physical toll of the job, and lack of support from managers.

Frontline health care workers are picking up additional shifts at inconvenient hours and, in some cases, caring for COVID patients who could’ve prevented their severe symptoms by being vaccinated.

“Nurses are definitely underappreciated for the amount of work they do,” Gertsch said. “I know that firsthand. And so I was like, ‘Let’s not stop at just COVID ... let’s do something more to help.’”

The Jackson Hole Nurses Fund is technically a nonprofit organization, and its founders see it potentially serving staff across the Cowboy State. They are still deciding exactly how the fund will be distributed.

Nurses will “have to show proof of lost wages or paying out of pocket for COVID tests or stuff like that,” Emerson said. “And then we’re gonna ask them to also submit a one-pager stating why they think they deserve it, or why they really need it.”

From there the board is likely to read through each application and make a selection.

“Some of those kinks need to be worked out. But we’ve got the LLC and we’ve got the account all set up. So this will be our kickoff event,” Emerson said.

Contact Evan Robinson-Johnson at 732-5901 or

Evan Robinson-Johnson covers issues residents face on a daily basis, from smoky skies to housing insecurity. Originally from New England, he has settled in east Jackson and avoids crowds by rollerblading through the alleyways.

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(1) comment

Raz Reinecke

It is so disheartening to me to see healthcare workers not wearing their personal protective gear like the mask, properly. The photo on this article clearly shows what I'm trying to point out. In the picture, the nurse has the opening of her nostrils sticking out above the mask. If our healthcare workers don't wear their masks correctly, what can we expect from the general public?

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