7 days: The week Casper responded to coronavirus (PHOTOS) - Casper, WY Oil City News
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7 days: The week Casper responded to coronavirus (PHOTOS)

A Target employee gives instructions to customers as they line up outside just before opening time on Thursday, March 19, at Eastridge Mall in Casper. Shipments of paper products and other in-demand items were stocked overnight. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City File)

CASPER, Wyo. – It was only a week ago.

On Thursday morning, March 12, Casper’s hotels were full, and just like every year for decades, the first day of 3A/4A high school basketball championships were underway.

Then it all changed.

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The tournament was canceled after the 9 a.m. game. Hotels guests “left in a huge flock,” according to one manager. Restaurant managers who staffed and stocked for hundreds of guests were left stunned.

The previous day, the first confirmed case of coronavirus COVID-19 was reported in Sheridan County. By Thursday, as realization the virus was spreading wildly across the country, national sporting and entertainment events started canceling.

Casper wasn’t immune. After the high school tournaments were canceled, dozens of scheduled conventions, shows and concerts pulled out at breakneck speed.

Then on Sunday, counties started closing school districts. The governor announced he recommended all schools close, and Natrona County followed his advice.

Over the following days, essentially everything that relies on people gathering and socialized was suspended.

Church, movies, bars, concerts, plays, ski resorts. Remaining restaurants scrambled to implement new safety measures and offer new delivery services.

Toilet paper and shelf-stable food vanished from stores as coronavirus cases increased around Wyoming and surrounding states.

What was almost unimaginable to most just one week ago is, at least for now, a “new normal.”

It’s been only a week. It feels so much longer.

The Hibachi Supreme Buffet in the Eastridge Mall closed temprarily on Wednesday, March 18. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Shelves in the household paper isles at Target were empty on Saturday, March 14, in spite of sales limits. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
A shopper walks by the frozen isle at Albersons on Wednesday, March 18, in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The bread isle in Albertson is nearly empty on Wednesday, March 18. Bread items were still available at the bakery section. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The Gaslight Social closed on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. “The Gaslight Social will be closed today for St. Patrick’s Day while we take a step back & assess the best way to proceed in the near future for our incredible customers as well as our amazing Gaslight family,” they said on social media. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
A sign at Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Eastridge Mall announces temprary new hours that fall in line with the mall’s. Hours were reduced and social distancing encouraged at businesses that are staying open. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Unusually light traffic moves through the intersection of Wyoming Blvd and Second Street in east Casper on Monday, March 16. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Shannon Feurt poses with his service dog-in-training, Star, at the Kelly Walsh High School campus on Wednesday, March 17. Feurt said he was looking for an open place to train and found the empty school to be a good option. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Kelly Walsh High School is empty on what would normally be a busy school day on Wednesday, March 17. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Kelly Walsh High School is empty on what would normally be a busy school day on Wednesday, March 17. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
“Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Health.” The Natrona County Public Library Closed earlier this week as the coronavirus spread through the country. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Movie Palaces, Inc., which owns all of Casper’s theaters and others across the state, announced they would temporarily close all of their locations on Wednesday, March 17. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Daily press briefing with local health and law enforcement officials were held at the Casper Events Center, which was closed to events and used for COVID-19 coordination. Press briefings will now be held online. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Natrona County Health Officer and infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Dowell talks during a press conference after deciding to cancel state basketball tournaments on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Casper Events Center staff turn people away after the 2020 Wyoming State High School Basketball Tournaments were cancelled on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The events were cancelled a day after the first reported case of coronavirus was reported in Wyoming. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

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: covid@cnchd.org

  • 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.