CHEYENNE — Follow up analysis of positive samples has shown four different COVID-19 variants recognized by national and international experts as “variants of concern” have been found in Wyoming over the past several months, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory recently analyzed genetic sequencing from a large batch of positive samples collected from residents since November. The new analysis, combined with previously reported results, showed at least 40 cases have involved the United Kingdom variant (B.1.1.7), more than 40 cases combined of two California variants (B.1.427 and B.1.429) and one with the South Africa variant (B.1.351).
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said it is likely all four of these variants have represented some of the COVID-19 transmission in Wyoming over the past several months. “Because this is far from a comprehensive review of all positive patient samples, the true number and geographical spread of variants of concern in Wyoming is likely greater than what has been identified,” she said.
Harrist indicated the variants are “of concern” because they each have been shown to transmit more easily between people, may lead to more serious illnesses or may have resistance to some COVID-19 treatment options.
“Knowing these variants have been circulating in Wyoming doesn’t change our primary recommendations for the public,” Harrist said. “The best way for people to protect themselves from getting sick is to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which are available to the general public now throughout Wyoming. We still also recommend staying home when you are sick, avoiding large gatherings and wearing masks in most public settings.
“Because the variants can affect the success of certain treatment options, we have shared updated information with healthcare providers across the state to help them help their patients,” she said.