County Health Officer disappointed in community actions as restrictions ease

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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Natrona County has had 13 new positive COVID-19 cases since Thursday. At a press conference Tuesday, Natrona County Health Officer, Dr. Mark Dowell expressed his disappointment in the community response as restrictions have eased. Especially with people wearing face coverings and social distancing.

Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell, speaks at a press conference Tuesday.

"It's as if people don't think it's real or don't think they should have to do it," said Dowell.

Dowell said the community was doing well following safety guidelines, but now it seems like people are just blowing it off.

It was also brought to Dowell's attention last weekend that multiple staff members at a local business were not wearing masks. He said it's unacceptable at this point for businesses to say it's no big deal and not follow safety guidelines.

Dowell said he doesn't care what kind of business you are, staff should be wearing face coverings out of respect for the community. He did say he doesn't think Natrona County opened too soon and there are no current plans to restrict anything again, but he thought the community would be doing a better job than they are right now.

"I thought we kind of had an understanding, if we loosen, we're all going to do this and there's plenty of opportunity to still do that," said Dowell.

Dowell thanked those in the community that are doing their part and asked those who aren't, to think about it and jump in, because the spike in recent cases is just the tip of the iceberg.

When Dowell was asked if the new cases are related to community spread or an increase in testing, he had this to say:

"We were not just doing mass testing. We're testing people that think they've been exposed, doing it as part of contact tracing but mostly just testing people that come in and are sick," said Dowell.

Dowell said they don't just test because, they test for a reason, which tells them these new cases are community spread.

Dowell also told people who are going to get tested for COVID-19 antibodies, to hold off.

Dowell said the community should wait until the county has better testing for it. He said every business has the right to offer the testing, but at this time, the tests aren't accurate enough.

"When we have the right antibody test, we'll start using them, and we'll let the community know, and we'll work with the providers, and the businesses and it may be very helpful," said Dowell.

Dowell said antibody testing is for looking behind, not looking at the present time or forward.