COVID Cases Rise, But Health Official Expects Drop Soon

COVID Cases Rise, But Health Official Expects Drop Soon

In recent weeks, the number of people actively infected with the novel coronavirus has generally stayed in the single digits. Billin described the recent increase as “significant,” but said it was “largely due to the recent arrival of out-of-state individuals who have tested positive.” Figures he shared on Facebook Sunday evening indicated at least 26 of the recent cases were identified in Cody. “The contact tracing was completed promptly on these individuals,” Billin said. “With this group reliably isolated and a significant [percentage] of Park County immune to COVID-19, our numbers should be back down shortly.”

As of Monday afternoon, there was one patient hospitalized with COVID-19 at Cody Regional Health and none at Powell Valley Healthcare. Billin wrote that it will depend “on how Park County does at (1) wearing masks voluntarily when appropriate, (2) staying home when sick, (3) hand washing, and (4) getting vaccinated.”

“The public health approach hasn’t changed here, the level of risk has changed,” Billin wrote on Facebook. He noted that both the Powell and Cody school districts “have committed to accommodating students that choose to continue wearing masks” and “if the risk level in schools goes up again, opting out of mask requirements can be revoked.” “The only way out of this is being vigilant for the long haul and adjusting our public health measures accordingly,” he said.

Billin signed off on the exception requests for the local schools. He said Sunday that, over a span of more than six weeks, there hadn’t been a single confirmed case of COVID-19 among students or staff in the Powell, Cody and Meeteetse school districts. Meanwhile, public health restrictions related to the pandemic continue to ease. While they lifted a statewide mask mandate in mid-March, Gov. Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist left the requirement in place for school buildings — but they’ve been granting exceptions to districts that request exemptions and meet certain criteria. The Cody school district was granted an exemption from the rule last month, and the Wyoming Department of Health exempted Powell schools on Friday. The exception had been requested by the Park County School District 1 Board of Trustees; it voted to pursue the exemption last week after parents and staffers overwhelmingly expressed support for lifting the requirement. Masks became optional in the Powell district as of Monday.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, there have been 2,500 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 detected in Park County, with 30 deaths attributed to the disease. In recent weeks, Billin said there’s been one local case of the so-called UK variant, and one case of the Brazil variant, which has been identified as a strain “of concern.” Park County Public Health, various medical providers and pharmacies also continue to offer and administer vaccinations against COVID-19. According to data compiled by the Department of Health, more than 10,200 people have been vaccinated in Park County, with about 975 of them awaiting a second dose. The department figures that about 36.9% of Park County’s adult population has been fully immunized. That’s above the state average of 33.4%.

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