Sublette County had 17 new COVID-19 cases detected this week, more than double the number of cases from the week prior. The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) has confirmed that several variants are now circulating in Wyoming, including in Sublette County.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic, and three of these variants have now been detected in Sublette County.
Genetic sequencing has detected two cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in Sublette County. This variant, which originated in the United Kingdom, has an estimated 50% increase in transmission rates, and likely increased disease severity based on hospitalizations and case fatality rates.
In addition, one case of the B.1.427 variant and three cases of the B.1.429 variant have also been detected. These variants, which originated in California, have an estimated 20% increase in transmission rates, and may cause a significant reduction in the ability of antibodies to fight the virus, as well as reduced effectiveness of some treatments.
In summary, these variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19, and may cause more severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. COVID-19 cases are also increasing in counties adjacent to Sublette County, with Teton, Lincoln, and Sweetwater counties in the state’s “red zone” for increased cases, indicating high transmission levels, according to the WDH. St John’s Health began this week with no COVID-19 hospital patients, but by Friday, there were 6 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
The good news is that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that so far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants that are circulating in Wyoming, and researchers are continuing to track this. Sublette County residents aged 18 and older are encouraged to receive a free COVID-19 vaccination through Sublette County Public Health. Register for an appointment here:
The important ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 are well known: Getting a COVID-19 vaccination, practicing physical distancing, wearing face masks, and washing hands frequently, are essential to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Please do your part to keep our community healthy.