An inside look into CLCHD’s COVID-19 testing site, and its plans for when a vaccine arrives

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 7:55 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Event Center at Archer is home to the majority of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department’s COVID-19 testing. CLCHD moved operations outside of the city, as it began seeing the demand for testing rise.

“We didn’t have the capacity at our facility so we moved out here a few months ago to the Events Center at Archer, which has been a great move because it allows us to do better testing during the winter conditions,” said CLCHD public information officer, Emily Robinette.

The need for testing continues to be prevalent, Robinette said they tested around 250 people a day throughout the month of November. She said because of resources, they have been saving the PCR tests (nose swab) for people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19. The oral tests are being used more for people who have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, but are not showing symptoms.

Though the Event Center at Archer is outside of the city, Robinette said it’s important that all Laramie County residents have access to testing.

“We just want to remind everyone that Laramie County is more than just the city of Cheyenne, so we have seen an increase in residents from the outlying area be able to come in as well. So, we’re happy to be able to have this service here that’s more accessible for everyone in the community,” said Robinette.

CLCHD also wanted to let the community know that if you have tested positive for COVID-19, you cannot be tested again for at least 90 days, because you can still test positive a second time during that period. Plus, all Wyoming residents are able to be tested at the Event Center at Archer, and if you are heading out there to be tested, do not eat, drink or smoke at least 30 minutes before, because you might not be able to be tested. CLCHD also encourages community members to self isolate until they get their results back.

With news that a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by the middle of December, CLCHD has actually been preparing for it, for months. After hearing Pfizer’s vaccine would have to be housed in an ultra cold freezer, CLCHD made the decision to buy one.

“We were pretty confident that that’s what we were going to need. Turns out it was a great decision, because now you cannot get one of these units. We ordered ours in September, got it delivered I think end of October,” said CLCHD executive director, Kathy Emmons.

Emmons said their first request to pay for the freezer with CARES Act funding was turned down, but a few weeks later it became more clear it would be needed to house the vaccine. She said Gov. Gordon’s office then encouraged them to apply and it was approved.

Emmons said right now Laramie County is one of five areas in the state that have the ultra cold freezer. She said when it becomes available, Laramie County will be getting 975 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’m so glad that we’ve got that because now we don’t have to worry about where is the shipment for Laramie County, how do we make sure that our residents have access to this vaccine and how can we make sure that we can get it out quickly,” said Emmons.

Emmons said the need for Pfizer’s vaccine to be stored at such a cold temperature is very rare. and other vaccines coming will not need to be stored in ultra cold settings. Emmons said she is confident that these vaccines are safe and looks forward to being able to bring them to the Laramie County community.

At this time, healthcare workers and long term care facilities will be getting the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and Emmons said as long as the approval process goes to plan, it could be in Laramie County by the third week of December.

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