Virus Outbreak 600k

In this June 3, 2021, file photo, registered nurse fills syringes with Pfizer vaccines at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, in Bellingham, Wash. The latest alarming coronavirus variant, the delta variant, is exploiting low global vaccination rates and a rush to ease pandemic restrictions, adding new urgency to the drive to get more shots in arms and slow its supercharged spread. Associated Press

CHEYENNE – With the city’s largest event right around the corner, Laramie County still accounts for the vast majority of delta variant COVID-19 cases in Wyoming – accounting for 74% of the state’s delta cases last week, Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Director Kathy Emmons said during Tuesday’s Board of Health meeting.

The delta variant is more transmittable and more deadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so residents and visitors alike are recommended to take precautions like social distancing, frequent hand washing and getting vaccinated.

“We’re at the point where (CFD) has done everything they can do; we’ve done everything we can do,” Emmons said. “Now, we just have to rely on people using their brain to do the right thing.”

Already, the effects of the variant and its spread are being felt by medical professionals, with 24 patients being treated for COVID-19 at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center and four at the VA Medical Center. Six of those CRMC patients are in the ICU, and five are on ventilators.

While Laramie County’s total active COVID-19 cases actually decreased from last week, Emmons said the hospitalization trend was “really concerning.”

Across the nation, especially in states with high populations of unvaccinated residents, like Missouri, other hospitals are seeing the same occurrence. The majority of severe cases are being seen in unvaccinated residents, and the death rate for those with no protection is even higher.

In the U.S., 99.5% of COVID-19-related deaths from January through May occurred in residents who were not vaccinated, Emmons said. A significant contributor to those stats is the variants.

“The CDC released today that 83% of the cases in the country are from variants, and that is certainly what we’re seeing in Laramie County,” Emmons said.

Unfortunately, other areas of the state are beginning to see the presence of the delta variant, too. At one point, Emmons said Laramie County had all but four of the state’s delta cases.

But here in Cheyenne, it will be a matter of wait-and-see for what’s to come after CFD, as the beginning of the school year gets closer and closer. Unlike last year, LCSD1 does not currently have plans to institute a mask mandate for the 2021-22 school year.

With kids 12 and older currently eligible for the vaccine, the health department plans to offer an optional COVID-19 vaccine, along with all the necessary vaccinations for elementary school students, during registration.

What’s more telling about the current situation is that the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department brought back its free COVID-19 testing program last week. Residents can head there if they’re feeling ill, and CFD will also offer both PCR and rapid result tests during the big event. However, CFD will not be offering vaccinations during the rodeo.

To find where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine, head to vaccines.gov. If you’re hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine for various reasons, you can learn more about common concerns at www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/index.html.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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