Vaccines Heading to Park County, But Pandemic Restrictions Continue | Big Horn Basin Media

Vaccines Heading to Park County, But Pandemic Restrictions Continue

Written by on December 13, 2020

There’s a light at the end of the COVID tunnel – but we’re not through yet.

Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County Public Health Officer announced Sunday night that the first doses of the much-anticipated Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been shipped and are making their way to Park County medical centers. He also posted a video that details how the vaccine will effectively combat COVID-19.

The vaccine will be disturbed thru several phases, outlined on a national level:

Phase 1

  • Limited doses of vaccine available to those at the highest risk and highest risk of exposure: first responders and healthcare workers who care for those with critical needs.

Phase 2

  • Larger numbers of doses will be available, and supply is likely to meet demand. Educational efforts will target critical populations who were not vaccinated in Phase 1.

Phase 3

  • All unvaccinated groups will be targeted as, by this point, there is likely to be a sufficient supply of vaccines. Special attention will be directed to populations or communities with low vaccine coverage.

Park County health agencies will likely be following a similar plan. The very first people to receive vaccines will be the county’s doctors, nurses, hospital technicians, law enforcement officers, and anyone in regular contact with high-risk individuals.

Dr. Billin didn’t say when Phase 1 will be initiated, but the first vaccinations will likely occur very soon after they arrive and are available for use.

While a vaccine is a stupendous development for the entire planet, it doesn’t mean that the ordeal of the pandemic is over.

Far from it.

In another Facebook post, Dr. Billin announced Park County had applied for a variance to the State Public Health Orders to keep bars and restaurants open later. Under the state’s current public health orders, those establishments must be closed to onsite consumption from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The variance requested would have allowed Park County’s bars and restaurants to remain open later, until 12 p.m. every night and until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.

That variance was submitted – and rejected.

In a letter sent to the county from State Health Officer Alexia Harrist, it was explained that the situation – across the county and the state – is still too dangerous to permit such a variance.

“Although we have seen the rates of newly reported cases and active cases decline over the past two weeks, and I certainly hope that continues, Wyoming and Park County, however, continue to experience high levels of transmission according to national standards. Today, Park County’s rate of new confirmed cases reported over the last 14 days was 815 cases per 100,000 population, which indicates Park County has a high level of transmission according to metrics based on the White House COVID task force (…/covid-19-state-and-county…/ and…/12/County-Metrics_Dec92020.pdf). This is four times the rate of new cases that would move Park County into a lower transmission zone.”

Harrist’s letter also mentioned the current scourge of outbreaks in nursing homes across Wyoming and the high-risk populations that live in these homes. Indoor spaces, like bars and restaurants. are high-risk environments for the transmission of COVID-19, and studies show early closures lead to lower transmission.

The letter concluded, “I will of course be happy to review this request again if the levels of transmission in Park County decrease and a less restrictive variance would be appropriate.”

The amendments to the state’s public health orders which force the early closure of bars and restaurants, in addition to limiting the sizes of indoor and outdoor crowds, will remain in effect until Jan. 4. At this point, they will be reassessed based on the state’s COVID-19 situation.

Park County’s mask mandate remains in effect until Jan. 8.

These are all clear signs that the potential end of COVID-19 is on the horizon, but there is will much that needs to and shall be done before it becomes “a thing of the past.”

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