By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Although coronavirus cases in Wyoming are dropping rapidly, the illness still poses a threat, according to a public health official, and the latest treatment options have yet to reach the state.
Bill Crampton, Park County’s public health nursing supervisor, said people in the state need to continue guarding against the illness.
“I know the community is fairly exhausted from this process, but I think we’re going to have to guard up for a while longer,” he said. “I think we’ve all come to grips with the idea that it’s going to be a part of our lives.”
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Wyoming stood at less than 400 on Monday, compared to more than 8,000 in January.
The number of patients hospitalized for coronavirus treatment has also dropped, as has the number of deaths linked to the virus.
New treatments, as well as the widespread availability of vaccines, have allowed officials across the country to drop mask mandates and other restrictions that have been in place for more than two years.
Although the coronavirus is no longer considered a pandemic, when rapidly rising case numbers cross national boundaries, it is still an endemic, Crampton said, one that is regularly found in populations.
However, Crampton said fewer people are signing up to receive vaccines, or boosters, despite continued public health recommendations.
“There are more people right now in Park County not showing up for appointments than do show up for appointments,” he said, explaining that many residents are making appointments to get the shot, but then fail to appear at their scheduled time.
With the release of new treatments for COVID, most notably the new pills created by both Pfizer and Merck, health officials have more options to treat the virus – but Crampton said the new treatments won’t be available in Wyoming for some time yet.
“I spoke with the pharmacist at Walmart yesterday, they are biggest supplier of anti-virals here in the community,” Crampton said. “According to them, they are still some time out, and Walmart is the only place that’s going to carry Paxlovid (Pfizer’s version of the drug) for treatment after you’ve been infected with COVID-19.”
Although President Biden promoted the new COVID pills during his State of the Union address last week, that particular treatment is difficult to manufacture, and the drugs are being parceled out on a per-capita basis.
Wyoming is only expected to receive 100 courses of the pill to begin with.
The Biden Administration’s plan is to make Pfizer’s antiviral pill widely available, as it is shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID by about 90%.