With supplies limited, vaccine sign-up paused

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Local demand for COVID-19 vaccines is currently outpacing the limited supplies, Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin said Wednesday.

Although vaccines are only being offered to certain groups of people — such as healthcare workers and people 70 and older — public health officials have had to temporarily pause sign-ups for vaccination clinics.

“Demand for the COVID-19 vaccination in Park County has been high relative to the amount of vaccine available,” Billin said.

Supply will eventually catch up with demand, though federal health officials have suggested it might not be until the summer that vaccines will be available to the general public.

Park County received 1,375 doses in the second half of December and is expected to receive another 1,575 doses this month. The largest shipment yet — 975 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine — is expected to arrive on Monday, according to Wyoming Department of Health projections. The department expects to distribute roughly 47,000 initial doses of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines across the state by the end of the month.

For local updates on availability — and to sign up for clinics when they become available again — visit www.parkcounty.us/CoronaVirus.html.

As of Wednesday, there were 138 active confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Park County, according to the Department of Health. Since the start of the month, the number of active cases in the county has been hovering between 118 and 151.

There were 11 patients hospitalized with the disease in Park County as of Wednesday: nine at Cody Regional Health and two at Powell Valley Healthcare. That was down from 16 hospitalizations — one of the highest figures recorded during the pandemic — from Friday through Monday.

On Sunday, Dr. Billin said various measurements — effective reproduction number, wastewater testing and daily new cases — show the prevalence of COVID-19 increasing in the county.

“We will see more hospitalizations and deaths related to the Christmas and New Year’s season,” he said. “Deaths continue to climb in both Park County and Wyoming, but these are related to increased cases three to six weeks ago as reporting is delayed by the death certificate process.”

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 16 Park County residents whose deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 — including nine deaths last month.

Most people infected with the novel coronavirus suffer mild to moderate symptoms, if any at all, but it can cause serious illness and, in rare cases, death. People who are older or have other health problems are at a higher risk.

Of last month’s deaths, seven of the nine people were older residents and five “had health conditions recognized as putting patients at higher risk of serious illness related to COVID-19,” the Department of Health said. The deaths also included twin brothers in Cody, who were determined to have died of complications from the disease on Christmas Day. They were 61.

The 16 deaths have come out of more than 2,300 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 that have been documented in Park County since March.

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