Green River Star -

By David Martin

County COVID numbers remain low

Statewide numbers spike


September 30, 2020

Monday marked the 200th day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Wyoming and while state’s confirmed numbers have steeply increased to nearly 1,100 as of Monday, Sweetwater County’s confirmed and probable cases remain low.

According to data from the Wyoming Department of Health, the county has 10 active, confirmed cases of COVID-19, with another 19 unconfirmed and probable cases. Leading the state is Albany County with 230 active cases, with Natrona County having the second-highest active case count with 154 and Fremont County being third highest with 98. So far,

Speaking to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, the executive director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department attributes a sudden spike of infections across the state to residents relaxing the precautions they take.

“It appears to me, just from anecdotal information we’ve been hearing in our office, that people are beginning to not wear their face masks in public like they were doing previously,” Kathy Emmons told the WTE Monday. “As people are getting weary of COVID-19 and of wearing masks, they’re just not being as diligent as they were in the past. I think that’s leading to increasing cases again.”

In Sweetwater County, Sweetwater County Board of Health officer Dr. Jean Stachon said most people take it seriously.

“We have been very fortunate,” Dr. Stachon said.

She said one of the questions being asked is if the county is testing enough because of the low infection county. She said testing isn’t an issue, adding that wastewater samples from the county have shown low amounts of coronavirus in the waste.

She sees the low numbers as showing how much local employers and other major groups have taken the recommendations seriously, saying businesses don’t want employees to get sick and spread it amongst coworkers. She also said precautions taken by local school districts have also been highly effective at combatting the spread of COVID-19. Stachon believes the upcoming flu season won’t be as harmful because of the precautions being taken against COVID-19 and thinks the pandemic may lead to people rethinking how they approach illness after the pandemic ends, leading to lifelong behavior changes. She also notes that people who are more at risk for the disease’s more serious symptoms are deciding to stay at home more than they would have in the past.

The upcoming flu season

As flu season approaches, the Wyoming Department of Health is urging residents to get vaccinated for the flu. The state recorded 14 flu deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season, which department of health epidemiologists have labeled as severe.

“We consider flu shots to be the first and most important step in flu protection,” Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH said. 

She said influenza B viruses were dominant at the start of last year’s flu season, but more fatal influenza A viruses started taking over when COVID-19 was becoming a concern. Social distancing and other precautions initiated at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Wyoming resulted in flu activity dropping sharply in March.

“As we approach a new flu season, we know flu viruses will circulate while COVID-19 remains a threat,” Harrist said. “Because there are fewer restrictions in Wyoming now than in the spring, we are concerned about the potential harm to our residents and strain on our healthcare system from the combined threat of both influenza and COVID-19.”

One of the major issues with the flu is many of its symptoms match with COVID-19. She said testing is essential and expects to offer tests which can detect COVID-19 or influenza from the same sample. Flu vaccines are important for residents vulnerable to the flu’s more-severe symptoms, which include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and residents aged 65 or older. The WDH also recommends people who work in healthcare or are in constant contact with someone who is at higher risk to get a flu vaccination.

“Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu shot. Flu viruses change frequently, so the vaccine is updated every season,” Harrist said. “Flu vaccines are safe and reduce illness, hospitalizations and deaths.”


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