The medical staff, leadership, administration and Board of Trustees of Cheyenne Regional Medical Center would like to express our concern over the recent surge of preventable suffering and death related to COVID-19 in our community.

Our hospital is averaging over 26 hospitalized COVID-19 patients per day, and these patients often have to stay for weeks. Our COVID-19 patients are also getting younger in age, and it is not just the “old” and immunocompromised who are being hospitalized and dying; we now see a more normal age distribution of those contracting COVID-19 and being hospitalized.

This death and suffering is preventable if we, as a community, step up and choose either to be vaccinated or to wear masks and socially distance ourselves.

Our low vaccination rate is a significant contributor to Laramie County experiencing a much higher percentage of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 than any other Wyoming county. With only 31% of Wyoming residents vaccinated, our state rates 47th in the nation. Our state also has the sixth-highest rate of hospitalized patients per 100,000 in the United States. (Again, Laramie County has a much higher hospitalization rate than the state does.)

Wyoming’s current trajectory is clearly not one of recovery, but of continued suffering from COVID-19. We can’t get back to “normal” if we don’t take action to set ourselves on the right path.

Adding to the concern, over 30% of people who contract COVID-19 are also experiencing ongoing symptoms, known as “long-haul syndrome.” Those who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 are almost twice as likely to get this syndrome (also known as “Long COVID”). Long-COVID symptoms include needing to utilize oxygen support, having a persistent cough and shortness of breath, as well as suffering from lingering and debilitating fatigue, brain fog or cognitive dysfunction, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

The COVID-19 patients we care for at CRMC are from Wyoming families. They are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother or friend. They are our retail clerks, hospitality workers and teachers. They are an important part of our community!

These COVID-19 patients are connected to us, and they help our city and county thrive, whether we know them personally or not. Our staff doesn’t want to senselessly lose any more of our community members.

Like all of you, we frequently hear comments that COVID-19 is “like having a cold” or “doesn’t really exist.” We know firsthand this isn’t accurate, and we don’t want you or your family members to experience the devastation we have seen and been through.

The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department reports that most COVID-19 cases can be traced to gatherings where the participants are not vaccinated or are not wearing masks. Our hospital and health system are concerned that with upcoming holiday and event celebrations, we risk even more widespread transmission of COVID-19.

We are not suggesting that our community not celebrate or enjoy themselves. However, we do ask that our community celebrate and enjoy time with others responsibly. If we all do our part, we can see safer days and make meaningful progress toward reducing the significant risks posed by COVID-19.

Here is our ask:

Please consider getting vaccinated. Vaccinations are free and widely available in our community, and they are the safest, most effective method to help us prevent ongoing suffering and death.

If you are the organizer of a social, family or community gathering, please ensure that all participants either are vaccinated or use masks and social distance themselves. Having events outdoors is beneficial, but it is not an adequate substitute for vaccinations or wearing masks. If organizers are unable to ensure vaccination or mask usage, we would encourage postponing such events.

Our extremely talented and dedicated staff are working hard around the clock to battle COVID-19 and save lives. We ask you, as our fellow citizens of Cheyenne and Laramie County, to please partner with us not only to protect yourselves, but to protect your fellow citizens and eliminate the preventable suffering and death in our community.

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