November 5, 2020
Like much of Wyoming, the University of Wyoming is contending with a continuing increase in cases of COVID-19 among its students and employees.
The increase accentuates the need to follow the university’s policies and public health guidelines aimed at stemming the spread of the virus, including staying home when sick; wearing face protection; physical distancing; avoiding gatherings where those measures aren’t followed; and complying with testing, tracing and quarantine/isolation requirements.
As of Wednesday, there are 239 active cases among the UW community — 27 students living on campus, 188 students living off campus and 24 employees. It’s the largest number of active cases since the pandemic began.
Four active cases have been detected on the fifth floor of Downey Hall, prompting the university to direct all of the students on that floor to shelter in place — in the same manner that students on other residence hall floors have been told to shelter in place this semester. Students on the floor who have not been in close contact with infected individuals are allowed to go to in-person classes and leave for work or religious activities.
The action was taken in accordance with UW’s COVID-19 indicators and tactics for Phase 3 of the university’s fall return plan. These allow for UW to respond quickly to outbreaks of the virus in certain programs and facilities at the university with targeted interventions to limit the spread of the virus.
“At this point, we aren’t imposing a broad shelter-in-place directive but, with just two and a half weeks before Thanksgiving break, it’s a crucial time for everyone to buckle down and do everything we can to limit further spread of the virus,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “We’re making tremendous efforts to keep our campus open and maintain some in-person instruction to the highest level possible, but those efforts are effective only to the extent that people follow our policies. We are especially concerned that some students could contract the virus but not have symptoms and, if not sheltering in place and following all the protocols established to limit the spread of the virus, could take it home to their families at Thanksgiving.”
UW’s president emerged Wednesday after sheltering in place for two weeks, out of an abundance of caution, following his attendance at a small gathering in which one of the participants later tested positive for COVID-19. Seidel has been tested multiple times since that potential exposure, with all results returning a negative indicator for the virus.
In Albany County, there are 819 active cases of COVID-19, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Six people have died as a result of the disease in the county, which has the highest seven-day number of cases per capita among the state’s 23 counties.
Statewide, there are 4,578 active cases, and 105 people have died.
“This surge in cases in our communities is directly impacting Wyoming’s health care system, our businesses and industries, and straining our health care workforce,” said Gov. Mark Gordon, who himself is self-quarantining following a potential COVID-19 exposure, in a media release last week. “This is the time to recognize that our actions impact others, their lives and livelihoods. All of us have a role to play in ensuring that our hospitals can continue to care for all patients, not just those suffering from COVID-19.”
More information about UW’s COVID-19 response can be found at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available. Those with questions also may call (307) 766-COVD (2683) or email COVID19@uwyo.edu.