Local COVID numbers improve

State relaxes limits on gatherings

Posted 1/26/21

Data indicates COVID-19 is again spreading more slowly within Powell, Cody and Meeteetse, Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin says.

“Daily new cases, active cases, hospitalizations, …

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Local COVID numbers improve

State relaxes limits on gatherings

Posted

Data indicates COVID-19 is again spreading more slowly within Powell, Cody and Meeteetse, Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin says.

“Daily new cases, active cases, hospitalizations, and effective reproduction number (Rt) are down significantly in Park County,” Billin said Sunday.

As of Monday, there were five people hospitalized with the respiratory disease in Park County and 58 active cases. With four COVID patients at Cody Regional Health and one at Powell Valley Healthcare, it’s the fewest number of local hospitalizations since late November. And it’s the first time since mid-October that there’s been fewer than 90 active cases of COVID-19 in the county.

“Numbers are down because transmission is down,” Billin said.

The State of Wyoming has also seen significant improvement, with the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations at Wyoming facilities falling from a peak of 247 patients in late November to 66 on Monday. As a result, Gov. Mark Gordon announced last week that the state will allow larger groups to gather.

Starting today (Tuesday), as many as 250 people will be allowed at indoor gatherings (up from 100) if they incorporate social distancing and facial coverings, while outdoor gatherings can include up to 500 people (up from 250).

Those caps are subject to the caveat that venues cannot exceed 25% of their capacity indoors or 50% outdoors. However, the change should make it easier for spectators to enjoy high school sports, as the prior limits, which went into place Nov. 24, had put a serious crimp on attendance.

The state’s other health orders — including a statewide mask mandate — remain in place.

“Wyoming is making progress and coming closer to safely returning to more normal lives, and the steps we have taken are helping us achieve this,”  Gordon said in a statement. “I am confident that as our vaccination rate increases, the data-driven approach we are taking and our improving circumstances will give us more opportunity to further relax our orders.”

Although vaccine supplies remain limited, Park County Public Health officials are continuing to work with Cody Regional Health, Powell Valley Healthcare, Heritage Health, 307 Health, Billings Clinic, Medical Center Pharmacy and other members of the local medical community to distribute doses. In a Thursday news release, public health officials said the collaborative effort is “doing well.”

As of Jan. 19, approximately 1,850 doses had been administered in Park County, including both initial shots and required second shots. That same day, Park County received another 975 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, but those had already been spoken for.

K-12 teachers and staffers, law enforcement personnel, healthcare workers, residents and workers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, grocery store and other food supply chain employees and those aged 70 and up are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

Public health officials have roughly estimated there are as many as 3,000 Park County residents who fall into those groups, known as tiers 1A and 1B, and sign-ups for clinics are currently on hold because demand is outpacing supply.

“Every county is experiencing the same thing,” Billin said, adding, “At the rate that the federal government and the manufacturers are supplying vaccine, the general public may not be vaccinated until May.”

As larger shipments of vaccine do begin arriving in Park County, public health officials say they’ll start scheduling larger clinics at the Park County Fairgrounds in Powell and at the Cody Auditorium.

“We want to have clinics of 600, 700, even 800 people in a day, once we get more vaccine made available to us,” said Kindy Krei, supervising nurse at the public health office in Powell.

Park County Public Health Nurse Manager Bill Crampton added that, “We would have many more people vaccinated to date if we had more vaccine available.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “those deliveries are out of the county’s hands at this time.”

For updates on COVID-19 vaccine clinics, visit http://parkcounty.us/CoronaVirus.html

Most people infected with the novel coronavirus suffer mild to moderate flu-like symptoms and recover at home. However, it can in rare cases, be deadly, with elderly residents and those with underlying health conditions the most at risk of becoming seriously ill.

As of Monday, there had been 18 deaths among more than 2,500 confirmed and probable cases documented in Park County since March. The most recent local death, announced Friday by the Wyoming Department of Health, was an older woman who died in December after being hospitalized both in- and out-of-state.

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