Laramie Co. Health Director Worried About Mutating Delta COVID Variant

in News/Coronavirus

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

With the Delta variant of the coronavirus hitting Cheyenne and Laramie County particularly hard, the executive director for the county’s health department is concerned about the low vaccine rates.

Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department Executive Director Kathy Emmons told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that she is concerned about the Delta variant hitting the county particularly hard.

“I’m very concerned, because we see all of the COVID variants that come into the state,” she said. “We can see what patient has what variant and see the contact tracing.”

Of the nearly 40 Delta variant cases in Wyoming, 34 are in Laramie County, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

Emmons said one recent wedding in the county caused a COVID spread throughout the community. She explained that the Delta variant is much more contagious than other strains of the coronavirus, and the low vaccination rate in both the county and statewide aren’t helping prevent its spread.

Laramie County’s current vaccination rate is around 35%.

“When a virus runs out of food, it will die,” Emmons said. “This particular variant keeps mutating, which is what viruses do until they run out of something to live off of, and the only way that will happen is if people get vaccinated.”

The quick mutation has kept Emmons and other Wyoming health officials from saying whether or not people who are vaccinated against the virus can be asymptomatic carriers of the variant.

She also noted that while people may think they can’t catch the virus a second time after being infected and getting the coronavirus’ antibodies, this is not the case.

Positive test results and hospitalization numbers have continued to tick upward in both Laramie County and Wyoming, with Emmons comparing the local numbers to those seen last fall, when there was a surge of coronavirus cases across the state.

With the upcoming Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, Emmons said there are concerns the variant will spread even further. She added the Health Department has been working with CFD officials to make the event as safe as possible.

“It’s a concern because there are a lot of people in a close area, but at least it’s outside for the most part,” she said. “The CEO and chairmen (of CFD) are encouraging the volunteers to get vaccinated, too. The problem is if people get sick, they can’t go to work, which then impacts businesses and our local economy.”

However, Emmons said she does not expect to see any health orders or mask mandates coming back into play anytime soon. She added the Health Department is not recommending that people who have been vaccinated wear masks, but is recommending masks be used in public spaces by those who have not been vaccinated.

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