By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A recent spike in coronavirus cases that has caused the number of active cases in Wyoming to grow to levels not seen since February is due to both the new Delta variant of the virus and the state’s low vaccination rates, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.
As of Wednesday, Wyoming had 759 active coronavirus cases, the first time since February the active case count has topped 700. In 2020, Wyoming didn’t hit 700 active cases until September, the beginning of a spike that saw more 11,000 active cases by late November.
WDH spokeswoman Kim Deti told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that health officials believe the more contagious Delta variant and low vaccination rates are contributing to the higher active cases in the state.
“We believe the Delta variant is a current factor in Wyoming,” she said. “The lower our vaccination rates, in combination with this variant that is highly contagious, the more at risk we are for seeing increased cases of COVID-19 and illnesses.”
The majority of the Delta variant cases are in Laramie County, with 175 of the the state’s 249 confirmed cases found in the county.
Deti said the department is encouraging anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, as it is the best way to protect against infection, including against the Delta variant.
“The current data indicate the available vaccines are effective against this variant and are especially effective at preventing severe illness even with variant infections,” she said. “We are seeing excellent results among those who have been vaccinated. The vast majority of recent, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths have involved people who were not yet fully vaccinated.”
With Cheyenne Frontier Days beginning Friday, Wyoming will likely see tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Deti said the department hoped all of Wyoming’s visitors have taken advantage of the vaccine before coming into the state.
Deti told Cowboy State Daily earlier this month that the other 22 counties across the state aren’t doing anything different from Laramie County to account for lower active case numbers.