Health department hopeful NCSD sports like football will come back - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Health department hopeful NCSD sports like football will come back

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper-Natrona County Health Department (CNCHD) is hopeful that student sports such as football will be able to resume moving toward the 2020-2021 school year.

“It is our hope we can return to somewhat of a normal fall,” CNCHD Executive Director Anna Kinder told the Natrona County School District Board of Trustees during their Monday, June 8 work session.

Kinder said that physicians and NCSD leadership have been holding weekly meetings to prepare for the up-coming sports seasons and school year. They are working toward protocols and safety practices to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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While she’s optimistic about the possibility sports practices will be able to resume later this summer, Kinder noted that Natrona is still seeing new cases of the virus and told the board Natrona likely has community spread of COVID-19.

“Today we had five [new cases], so it continues to be prevalent in our community, in fact it is getting more diversified than it was in the beginning,” she said.

It may be safer to resume outdoor athletic activities both due to the ability to social distance, but also because some literature suggests that windy conditions help prevent the spread of the virus, Kinder noted.

“We should be in great shape in Wyoming,” she said. “There is potential for good things to come.”

However, Kinder said she is more concerned when it comes to sports such as wrestling which require close physical contact between individuals.

“The one that I have not figured out is wrestling,” she said. “That one still kind of bugs me.”

The school district and the health department are working toward a set of safety protocols for athletics. That will involve some personal responsibility on the part of student-athletes, such as paying attention to where they are sitting and maintaining distance from teammates when possible.

Implementing signage to help ensure safety protocols are followed is something officials are working toward as well as the use of hand sanitizer.

Kinder added that the both the health department and NCSD are working toward algorithms to determine how many students can safely be on a practice field or in a classroom on a square footage basis. She noted that the algorithm NCSD officials came up with is close to the one the health department was working toward.

Kinder said the health department and school officials are also tracking what is happening with sports leagues nationally to offer guidance on what can safely be done in Natrona.

Another part of the equation for returning in the fall is implementing COVID-19 screening protocols. NCSD will likely ask students and staff to stay home from school or practice if they are sick.

Kinder noted that ideally, a rapid COVID-19 test would improve the ability to screen for the virus and keep more kids in the classroom and on the playing field.

But she said such a test is not available, nor is reliable anti-body testing which would also improve the ability to screen.

While hopeful that sports can resume in a somewhat normal fashion, Kinder noted that a COVID-19 vaccine is not available and until it it, safety measures will likely need to be in place.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.