Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell said in a press conference Tuesday morning that he's disappointed with how the area has handled the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

"It's as if people don't think it's real or that they should have to (social distance)," Dowell said.

Dowell said a "well-known" member of the community entered a restaurant and observed several employees not wearing face coverings.

"You loosen the recommendation and compliance with what we want you to do, we see an increase in cases," Dowell said.

Since Thursday, Natrona County has seen 13 new cases of the virus. In the two weeks leading up to that, the county saw now new cases.

"We have no doubt there is community spread," Dowell said. "Which was the concern all along."

Dowell said there was a "beloved" patient he and his colleagues followed for decades. She died of COVID-19 two days ago.

The Natrona County Health Officer added that there could be impacts in the fall if the community doesn't properly socially distance and wear face coverings when in public. Those impacts could include schools in the fall.

He added that health officials are not considering tightening restrictions.

"We're following the lead of the governor," Dowell said. "Things would really have to explode."

But Dowell said he thought the community would better follow the restrictions that were in place for nearly two months.

"I'm disappointed that people aren't doing what they need to do," Dowell said. "I want our businesses to step up to the plate."

The CDC advises the public to wear face coverings. The argument isn't that it protects people from getting the virus, but rather it prevents asymptomatic people from spreading it. 

Dowell said there are four nurses at Wyoming Medical Center who have tested positive for COVID-19. An investigation is ongoing.

Roughly 100 employees at Wyoming Medical Center have been tested and those tests have all been negative.

A testing system has been set up so patients who are going to have surgery will be tested ahead of time.

An outbreak was recently reported at Worland Healthcare and Rehab, which is a nursing home. Dowell said should an outbreak it a Natrona County nursing home, it could "spread like wildfire."

This story will be updated. 

Enter your number to get our free mobile app