SWEETWATER COUNTY — According to Sweetwater County public health officials, the majority of recent COVID-19 positive cases are coming from unvaccinated Sweetwater County residents.
During a Sweetwater County COVID-19 Information meeting today between local health officials, business leaders, elected officials and media representatives, local health officials stated most of the COVID-19 positive cases in the county are coming from unvaccinated residents.
Dr. Jean Stachon said about 90 to 95 percent of all of the positive COVID-19 cases the county is currently seeing are coming from unvaccinated residents.
“It hasn’t gone away in our community,” Stachon said about the virus.
Public health officials are also concerned about the Delta variant, which appears to have made its way into Sweetwater County. So far, seven Sweetwater County residents have tested positive for this variant, however they are sure there are more cases because not everyone is being tested for the variants, Dr. Stachon said.
The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, has been labeled a vaccine of concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease, significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures, according to the CDC’s website.
The county is also continuing to see younger patients in their 30s to 40s seeking medical attention for virus-related complications, according to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County COVID-19 Incident Commander Kim White. White said that due to the space in the ICU, the hospital has had to transfer COVID-19 patients to other facilities.
Sweetwater County Public Health Director Kim Lionberger said the county has seen a decrease in the amount of COVID-19 positive cases in the past couple of weeks from what it was seeing in May and June. In the last couple of weeks, the county has seen 30 to 40 positive cases, while back in May and June it was 60 to 70 cases.
“They are predominately unvaccinated individuals,” Lionberger said.
The 14-day rolling average positivity rate has also remained between 5-7 percent, which is a decrease from about 10 percent from a month ago, she said.
This was also reflected in a decrease of COVID-19 patients at the emergency room this weekend, White said.
As for vaccinations, a little more than 29 percent of Sweetwater County’s entire population have received both doses of the vaccine. For those in the 60 and older category, 63.5 percent of their age group in Sweetwater County has received the vaccine.
Sweetwater County Public Health is still offering walk-in vaccination clinics Monday-Friday. Meanwhile, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County is hosting a drive-thru vaccination clinic from 3-6 pm Wednesday, July 21.
While the data is showing the county has remained stable for a three weeks, public health officials are still concerned.
“It could increase again with Delta being in our county and the low vaccination rates,” Lionberger said.
Both Dr. Stachon and Lionberger are looking closely at what has happened to Laramie County, which currently has 184 active cases largely in part to so many Delta variant cases. Of the 184 cases, 141 have tested positive for the Delta variant, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
“The Delta variant is something we will watch closely,” Dr Stachon said.
Even though the WDH hasn’t officially reported all of the most recent COVID-19 related deaths in Sweetwater County, Dr. Stachon said the county has seen three in the last three weeks. These deaths range in age from mid forties to eighties, she said.
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