Sublette COVID cases remain high as health orders extend

WYOMING – The two remaining statewide health orders in Wyoming have been extended to the end of the month while Sublette County’s surge in active COVID-19 cases continues.

Wyoming Department of Health announced Tuesday the requirement for mask use and social distancing in schools, and the order limiting indoor venues of more than 500 people to 50-percent capacity with mask use, were extended an extra two weeks through April 30.

“While we continue to see stable case numbers and hospitalizations in most areas of the state, our overall progress seems to have plateaued,” Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said. “COVID-19 remains a threat for now, with cases growing in other states.”

While the state’s progress in active cases has steadied, Sublette County has backslid.

Public Health Nurse Manager Janna Lee confirmed 22 active cases with individuals quarantining in Bondurant, Big Piney, Daniel and Pinedale during the Wednesday COVID-19 Response Group update. Lee said that number is concerning because the county saw no active cases for several days before Spring Break.

Lee also confirmed the different variants that were identified in Sublette County, which she attributed as part of the recent rapid community spread. Lee said that community spread is “concerning again.”

Lee and Dr. Brendan Fitzsimmons said there are now three people from Sublette County who required hospital care for COVID-19-related illness.

Fitzsimmons said that while the current surge in cases is concerning, the county will continue its current course as statewide numbers hold steady.

“We’re probably not in danger of these hospital systems being overrun or anything like that,” he said.

Fitzsimmons said summer activities, including events like graduations, should go on without many restrictions. He estimated about half of the county’s citizens have either been fully vaccinated or have contracted COVID-19.

Also during the update, Lee addressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to table the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s decision came after six out of 6.8 million doses may have contributed to a rare brain blood clot in women from 18 to 48. Lee said Public Health has administered 185 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine so far but has rescheduled further doses to heed direction from the CDC and Wyoming Department of Health.

Doses of the Moderna vaccine remain readily available. So far Public Health has administered 1,995 first doses of the Moderna vaccine and 1,636 second doses. Lee said they’ve been able to quickly schedule vaccines shortly after registration.

More than 175,000 individuals have received at least one vaccine dose so far in Wyoming with state and special federal counts combined.