COVID lull could indicate new illness phase

By: 
Abby Vander Graaff with the Laramie Boomerang, from the Wyoming News Exchange

LARAMIE — Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Albany County is seeing a reprieve from the high case numbers that hit midwinter.

Last week, University of Wyoming announced its first day with no positive COVID-19 tests since summer 2020. As of Tuesday, Albany County had an average rate of 2.7 cases per day.

The state of Wyoming had an average positive test rate of 3.7%, according to data gathered by Mayo Clinic. The number of cases has been decreasing since a peak in January that corresponded with the spreading of the omicron variant.

On Monday, Gov. Mark Gordon ended the emergency declaration for the state, which will have little impact on residents beyond the ending of emergency federal SNAP allotments.

“The people of Wyoming were really good about what needed to be done, how they needed to address it,” Gordon said of the state’s pandemic response during a press conference. “I’m glad people here in Wyoming got to express their points of view.”

While this doesn’t mean the pandemic is over, it could signal the beginning of a new phase, said Kim Deti, spokesperson for Wyoming Department of Health.

“We may progress eventually to a ‘steady state’ for COVID-19 where it’s endemic with spikes or surges, like we see with influenza, but it’s too soon to say we’re there now or predict exactly what will happen or at what time,” Deti said in an email.

So far, peaks and valleys in case counts have corresponded with different variants of the virus, Deti said. Recent trends have followed that of many other respiratory viruses, where numbers are high in the winter and lower in the spring.

“I’m told that increased levels of immunity among the population from vaccination and infection likely has a role in the currently reduced spread of COVID 19,” Deti said.

As of Tuesday, there were five confirmed active cases in Albany County, for a total of 29 confirmed cases in the past two weeks, according to Wyoming Department of Health. Statewide, there were a 77 active cases for a total of 557 active cases in the past two weeks.

Ivinson Memorial Hospital has been seeing a decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations since the end of February and is now averaging one patient per day, said Chief Nursing Officer Nicole Rooney.

Because of lower demand, the hospital has moved testing sites from the parking garage back into the convenient care clinic. While things are looking up, staff members are still taking precautions.

“We’re trying to still be very diligent by screening, performing tests (and) making sure that we’re keeping up with the new guidelines that come up,” Rooney said. “We’ve definitely seen lulls in the past that didn’t stay as a lull.”

Wyoming residents should continue to stay home if they’re sick or test positive for the virus, consider wearing a mask in public spaces and get a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot if they haven’t already, Deti said.

 

This story was published on March 18

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