Omicron Reaches Park County While Vaccines Work to Stop It

Omicron Reaches Park County While Vaccines Work to Stop It

Written by on January 24, 2022

Now that the omicron variant has officially arrived in Park County, Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin reminds residents of the “need-to-knows” of COVID-19.

The first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 was confirmed in Park County on Friday, Jan. 15. Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County Public Health Officer, announced a sample tested by the Wyoming Department of Health to confirm the variant’s presence.

“Most COVID-19 are processed locally and only give a positive or negative result,” Dr. Billin explains in one of his regular Facebook posts. “Variant testing involves sequencing of the virus genome. For this, samples must be sent to the State Health Lab in Cheyenne.”

However, the highly contagious but less severe variant has likely been in Park County much longer.

According to Dr. Billin, the variant has likely been circulating through northwest Wyoming communities since the beginning of the year. However, it’s also possible variant was being spread before the end of 2021.

“Because this takes one to two weeks (and we have just gotten our first positive test result), we think Omicron has been in Park County for a couple of weeks,” says Dr. Billin.

Variant testing is beneficial for epidemiologic and public health purposes but is not helpful as a guide for patient treatment. All COVID-19 variants are treated the same way, and the test takes too long to make a meaningful difference during treatment.

In July 2021, the Wyoming Department of Health was doing variant testing on 19% of submitted samples – more than any other state.

Dr. Billin also shared a study undertaken at the University of Edenborough testing the effectiveness of vaccines against the omicron and delta variants.

“(The study) shows that a booster shot of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine was linked to a 57% decrease in the likelihood of developing symptomatic COVID-19 from Omicron, but about 80% against Delta.

“These early national data suggest that Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization when compared to Delta. While offering the greatest protection against Delta, the third/booster dose of vaccination offers substantial additional protection against the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 for Omicron when compared to ≥25 weeks post second vaccine dose.”

As of Sunday, Jan. 23, there are 162 active cases of COVID-19 in Park County and eight hospitalizations.

123 Park County residents have died from COVID-19-related complications since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Jan. 18, there were 35 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Park County. That’s the highest number of confirmed cases in one day since Oct. 4, 2021.

Omicron variant graphic

Courtesy Park County Public Health

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