Wyoming has not received its fair share of vaccines and citizens need to pressure their state and federal politicians to correct the situation, St. John’s Health CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre said at Friday’s community update.
Beaupre said the federal government has already purchased enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to vaccinate roughly a quarter of the U.S. population.
“If you do the math, and you figure it out, by state, we should be getting 120,000 doses,” Beaupre said. “But instead, we were slated to get 45,000 doses.”
He said he and other health officials are working to rectify that and urged people listening to Friday’s community update, livestreamed from Town Hall, to help lobby for more doses for Wyoming. He suggested sending notes to Wyoming’s congressional delegation and state officials.
“We should be treated fairly like every other state and get our hands on our fair share of vaccines,” Beaupre said.
During Friday’s update, health officials also painted a troubling picture of Jackson Hole’s COVID-19 metrics, saying that all indicators — from wastewater monitoring to positivity rates to seven-day rolling averages — were pointing in the wrong direction. The county saw 92 new lab-confirmed cases reported in three days from Friday to Sunday. Teton County is now averaging 29 new cases per day and has the most cases per capita in the state, according to the New York Times coronavirus tracking project.
Beaupre said St. John’s Health is seeing hospitalizations tick back up. As of Friday, there were seven patients in the primary care unit and two in the intensive care unit. He also reported that three St. John’s Living Center residents were COVID-19 positive and all three were stable.
“It is not surprising that we’re seeing more patients in the hospital because as the community incidence increases, it’s just going to happen that several weeks after that the hospital will begin to get full as these people get sicker with the disease,” Beaupre said. “It’s really, really imperative that we continue to understand that even though vaccine is beginning to roll out, we are still in a fight for our lives here.”
Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell emphasized that the best way to slow the spread continues to be maintaining physical distancing from those outside one’s household, wearing masks and washing hands.
Riddell also said the new more transmissible variant strain of SARS-CoV-2, better known as COVID-19, could be contributing to the increase in cases.
“Unfortunately, we have no way to know that for sure,” Riddell said Friday. “There’s no local program for genotyping or doing genetic sequencing on the COVID that we see here.”
Wyoming sends some samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could eventually detect the strain’s presence in Wyoming.
Minnesota is the latest state to report the variant. The Minnesota Department of Health announced Saturday that the more contagious version of the coronavirus, first detected in the United Kingdom, showed up in specimens from five people living in four different counties in the Twin Cities metro area. Other states also reporting the variant include: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York.