Wyoming Health Officials Unsure Why Laramie County Has Higher COVID Cases Than Rest of State

in News/Coronavirus

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Some Wyoming health officials are unsure as to why some counties are enjoying lower rates of active coronavirus cases than others.

Laramie County has a significantly higher number of active coronavirus cases than any other county — at 267, more than half of the statewide total of 476 as of Tuesday.

That means about three-tenths of 1% of the county’s population — 0.26% to be exact — had active coronavirus infections as of Tuesday.

The number of active cases in the county is seven times higher than the number found in the county with the second-highest total, Sweetwater County with 38.

However, the Laramie County vaccination rate is about the same as the statewide average — about 32%.

Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that the other 22 counties across the state aren’t doing anything different from Laramie County to account for the lower case numbers.

“There really isn’t much difference between what most counties are doing,” she said.

Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department executive director Kathy Emmons told Cowboy State Daily last month that 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.

Johnson County, which had no active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, has seen a surge of tourists this summer due to lessening or expiring health orders, but cases have still stayed low over the last month.

“We’ve gone up and down to about five cases in the last three weeks,” Robin King, the county’s public health preparedness specialist, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “Some tourists are wearing masks, but locals really aren’t wearing them. I haven’t seen anything different we’re doing, on a public health side, for cases to be low.”

As of Tuesday, active coronavirus cases were found in about eight one-hundredths of 1% — 0.08% — of the state’s population. However, once Laramie County was taken out of the equation, the infection rate dropped to 0.04%. Only two other counties had an active case rate above one-tenth of one percent — Uinta at 0.11% and Carbon at 0.12%.

With the upcoming Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, Emmons said there are concerns the new Delta 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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