Out-of-Staters Cause COVID-19 Case Spike in Park County
Written by Andrew-Rossi on May 4, 2021
After weeks of consistent decline, COVID-19 cases are starting to increase in Park County once again – right as the first tourists of the summer arrive.
Park County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin’s latest COVID-19 update included something that hasn’t been seen in months: a noticeable increase in cases.
On Monday, May 3, there were 32 active cases of COVID-19 in Park County, mainly in Cody. It’s the first time the number of active cases in the county has been this high since late January.
One individual was confirmed to have the U.K. variant of COVID-19 discovered in December 2020. Variants spread easier and faster but haven’t been observed, causing more severe symptoms.
This increase comes as the county and the state continue to lessen their COVID-19 restrictions.
The Wyoming Department of Health has two public health orders still in place. Masks and social distancing are required in schools and large, high-capacity indoor venues.
Both Park County variances were granted based on the persistent decline in COVID-19 cases in the community. But the variances could be amended or rescinded if the county’s COVID climate changes.
There’s no doubt about the source of the increase: tourists and other out-of-state visitors.
“Last week, Park County saw a significant increase in COVID-19 active cases, test positivity rate, sewage testing results, and effective reproduction number,” Dr. Billin said in his update. “This is largely due to the recent arrival of out-of-state individuals who have tested positive.”
Local health officials have been expecting something like this for months. Park County is a tourist destination, regardless of vaccination status.
Public Health workers diligently continue contact tracing for all infected individuals, just as they have since the beginning of the pandemic. Contact tracing for the currently infected individuals was “completed promptly.”
The good news is the individuals with active cases were quickly isolated, and their cases shouldn’t impact the downward trends in Park County.
Most importantly, there’s no need to panic. Dr. Billin’s view is this uptick in cases is a fluke, not a pattern.
“With this group reliably isolated and a significant (percentage) of Park County immune to COVID-19, our numbers should be back down shortly,” he says.
A critical part of ensuring COVID-19 cases stay low is vaccination. Public Health continues to offer regular clinics, despite a decline in interest from local adults.
Several local entities are currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine, which remains free to everyone. Park County Public Health will soon transition to appointment-based vaccinations at their Cody and Powell offices.