UPDATE, 12:25 p.m. May 2: State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist has signed the latest iteration of Teton County's more restrictive variance to state health orders.
In his justifications for the order, Teton County District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell cited familiar and new statistics:
• The lab-confirmed positive number of 65 cases minus 60 recovered and one death means 4 cases remain active. Teton County also has 31 probable cases.
• The county's "attack rate" of 277 per 100,000 residents is the highest of any county in Wyoming, more than four times the statewide rate.
• Of the 733 COVID-19 tests conducted in Teton County, 9.4% have returned as positive. That rate of positivity is more than double the statewide rate of 4.5%, which may indicate inadequate testing and a higher level of unidentified cases.
• With 10 Teton County residents admitted to St. John's Health and 4 residents admitted "to higher level units in other facilities" who tested positive for SARS CoV-2 infection, that's a hospitalization rate of more than 21% of confirmed cases.
UPDATE, 5:25 p.m. May 1: The county's health officer will be resubmitting a request for a variance to state health orders that would keep gyms, nail and hair salons, barbershops and a number of other personal service businesses closed through May 11.
Reached by phone Friday morning, Teton County District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell said he would discuss details of the variance at the community update at 3 p.m. today, live streamed from Town Hall.
In that meeting, Riddell took responsibility for what he called a factual error due to his miscalculation of data. However, he does not anticipate that meaning any change in the variance.
"This is one statistic on what are four pages of justification for the variance order," Riddell said.
Another important justification for why Teton County needs stricter orders than the rest of the state is the overall case prevalence, with a per capita case count higher than anywhere else in the state.
According to emails provided to the News&Guide, Riddell plans to resubmit the request to clear up the number — a statistic that Teton County was seeing a "hospitalization rate of more than 80% of confirmed [COVID-19] cases."
Until Thursday, the Teton County Emergency Management COVID-19 dashboard was reporting 55 "COVID-19-related hospital admissions" at St. John's Health. But of those people who were hospitalized, only 11 tested positive for the virus.
With 65 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Teton County, that pencils to roughly 17% of people diagnosed with the disease in Teton County were hospitalized. At Friday's meeting, Riddell did not use the 17% number, saying he was still working with hospital officials to get an accurate number.
Emergency Management had been reporting COVID hospital admissions in that way because the hospital was doing so. The dashboard takes data about hospitalizations from St. John's Health webpage.
The hospital was, in turn, reporting those numbers because of conditions during the early stages of the virus' spread in Teton County.
Then, testing was limited and turnaround time varied widely for tests that were processed. That meant St. John's Health's workers had to don personal protective equipment and treat suspected patients as if they were confirmed until a test could rule out the disease. In some cases, results didn't come back until after the patient left the hospital.
"The turnaround time on our testing was not great," said Karen Connelly, the hospital's chief communications officer.
The hospital chose to report how many people had been admitted with COVID-19-like symptoms to better illustrate the reality of how it was being impacted by the disease.
"If we had only been talking about COVID positives, it wouldn’t have looked like we were being impacted, but in fact we had a lot going on," Connelly said. "The relevant metric at that point was how many COVID-related patients we were taking care of."
St. John's daily coronavirus update webpage now reflects both the number of "laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 tested hospital admissions" and "COVID-19 tested hospital admissions." The latter metric was previously labeled as "COVID-19-related hospital admissions."
Emergency Management's dashboard is now only reporting lab-confirmed hospital admissions.
Both Connelly and Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs said the data could have been better explained.
"It makes a lot of sense to me that there could have been confusion," Connelly said.
However, St. John's officials support Dr. Riddell's variance to the state orders.
"Looking at the bigger picture of what’s happening it seems that it’s a really reasonable approach," Connelly said. "So we’re fully supportive of it."
— Rebecca Huntington contributed to this report.
This article was updated Friday afternoon after the 3 p.m. Community Update, partly to include quotes from that meeting. — Eds.
This article was updated Saturday just after noon to include new statistics Dr. Riddell included in the revised health order signed by Dr. Harrist. — Eds.