January 7, 2022, Jackson, WY – New COVID-19 cases continue to increase sharply over the last week. From December 29, 2021, through January 4, 2022, there were a total of 734 cases reported with a correlating case rate of 3,128.20/100,000 population. In the past two weeks, 15.6% of tests taken in Teton County have received a positive result according to the Wyoming Department of Health. At this time the St. John’s Health Emergency Department, St. John’s Health Urgent Care clinics, medical providers, and other aspects of our medical care systems are overwhelmed with more ambulatory COVID-19 patients. Though the great majority of these patients are not needing to be hospitalized they do require medical care. Our COVID-19 hospitalization numbers are beginning to rise (in the past we have seen a 2-3 week delay between the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations).
These recent case counts have significantly exceeded the previous all-time high we saw in January 2021. Due to these very high numbers our case investigating team is overwhelmed along with the COVID-19 testing capacity in our community. Both severe winter weather and the holiday shipping closures have caused delays in receiving testing supplies and for tests to be sent out and processed. We expect cases to continue to increase and stay high for multiple weeks based on modeling and experiences from other areas in the United States that are also dealing with an Omicron surge. At this point in time, we have not had a confirmed Omicron case in Teton County. There is a delay in receiving results from the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 positive tests. Though we have not received a lab confirmed result, the Teton County Health Department believes we are in the midst of an Omicron surge in our community.
Teton County Health Director, Jodie Pond, MPH, states, “We strongly encourage all community members to follow the recommendations below. These are the same preventative measures we have recommended before. We know that they work, and we are asking you to please help do your part. The Teton County Health Department is operating at the highest level we can to serve our community during COVID-19. At this time our COVID vaccine clinic and our testing supplies allocated from the Wyoming Department of Health are at capacity due to staffing restraints and current allocation amounts. Testing supplies and demand for testing are exponentially increasing across the entire U.S. and we are seeing these effects in our community. Please be patient with us as we navigate through this new stage in the pandemic, the Omicron surge.”
Teton County Health Department wants to remind community members, local businesses and other organizations of all the ways they can protect themselves, their families, and their fellow community members during this time when an extreme amount of COVID-19 is circulating in our community. With COVID-19 it is always best to layer multiple prevention strategies together, one strategy alone will not be enough to keep you from contracting COVID-10 especially with Omicron.
- Avoid crowded indoor spaces and events.
- Wear the best mask you have in public indoor settings including but not limited to schools, childcare facilities, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, grocery stores, retail stores, aerial trams, gondolas, and workplaces. Consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor setting and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation and while indoors at transportation hubs. This may include a surgical mask, KN95 mask or more. Please visit, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/masks.html to learn more. Though we do not currently have a mask order we do have a mask recommendation. Businesses can still require wearing masks in their establishments with exceptions. To read the entire recommendation please visit, http://www.tetoncountywy.gov/2064/Current-Health-Orders-and-Guidance.
- If you own or run a bar or restaurant consider closing at 10pm.
- Get Vaccinated and Get Boosted! The COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection we have against severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death. Though breakthrough cases are occurring the vaccine is doing its job at drastically reducing the risk of severe illness. Booster doses for the COVID-19 vaccine are now recommended for those ages 12 and up. Please visit our webpage, www.tetoncountywy.gov/covidvax for clinic times, to book an appointment, and more.
- Stay home when you are sick. If you are sick, please test. The testing capacity in Teton County is overwhelmed. Please save the no-cost rapid Curative tests for those in our community who are sick and need to know their results quickly. At this time if you are asymptomatic and need a test because you were exposed, for traveling, work, or administrative purposes, please use the no-cost curative kiosks or a no-cost vault test. To see all the testing options in Teton County please visit, www.tetoncountywy.gov/testing.
- If you test positive, please isolate, and trust your test results. The likelihood of a false positive test result is extremely low. Many people in our community are sick and need tests; please do not add extra burden to the testing system in an attempt to confirm your results. At this time, the isolation requirements have changed to be only 5 days (day 0 is the day your symptoms start or the day you test positive). If you are either asymptomatic (have no symptoms) or your symptoms are resolving (including no fever for at least 24 hours without medications and other symptoms are improving) continue to stay in isolation. Please wear a mask for the following 5 days after the end of your isolation period. If your symptoms are not improving, please continue to stay home until your symptoms resolve. To see the latest isolation and quarantine recommendations please visit, www.tetoncountywy.gov/covid.
- Increase ventilation in your spaces, open windows, turn on HEPA filters, or meet outside.
- Choose your bubble. We know it is challenging to limit your exposure to only your household with work, school, childcare, and other factors. Please do limit the number of people you are exposed to. Avoid social, recreational, and other extracurricular gatherings with those outside of your household.
- In the workplace, allow telework as much as possible, implement staggering schedules, wear masks while at work, host meetings virtually, and increase ventilation.
- Limit your travel for essential purposes only and self-monitor for symptoms upon return.
Please help us help our community reduce the current COVID transmission in our community. It is a community effort. If everyone does a few of these recommendations the larger effect will be seen. For those in the community are looking for a tool to help them determine the level of risk their activities are we recommend using this risk calculator called the microCOVID Project, https://www.microcovid.org/. All of these recommendations can also be found on our metrics page at, http://www.tetoncountywy.gov/2171/Teton-County-Metrics.