Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Weather causes blip in vaccine program

U.S. reaches death toll of 500,000 from COVID-19

Wyoming has experienced a brief blip in its vaccine problem due to the weather issues across the nation over the last week. These issues have temporarily prevented some shipments of vaccine doses to reach the state.

The Wyoming Department of Health confirmed on Thursday that it was not expecting any doses of the Moderna vaccine to be delivered to Wyoming locations for the rest of the week. A total of 5700 first doses and 3700 second doses had been expected for distribution.

“Unfortunately, while we don’t have details available, we expect distribution plans and appointments in many of our counties may be affected in the coming days,” said Angie Van Houten, Community Health Section chief.

“As we get more information from the national level, we will let our county and healthcare provider partners know what they can plan to receive and when.”

Over 93,000 Wyoming residents have now received their first dose of the vaccine, although many more are still patiently waiting. Some of the affected shipments contain second doses, which may delay the date some people can receive their second dose; however, this does not mean there will be a need to “start over” and those people can still receive their second dose once it is available.

At this time, WDH is awaiting confirmation of upcoming deliveries. In a press briefing at the White House on Friday, Andy Slavitt, Senior Adviser to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator, described a backlog of around six million doses affecting all 50 states.

Among the problems, he listed workers being snowed in and unable to package and ship the vaccines, road closures holding up deliveries and vaccine sites being located in areas with power outages.

“While availability of vaccine compared to current demand has been an ongoing issue, it’s frustrating to face this issue right now,” Van Houten said. “We have to ask people to stay tuned for state and local updates.”

According to Crook County Public Health, the delays have not affected any vaccine appointments scheduled for this week. New appointments will be made once new doses of vaccine have been received.

At this time, a total of 854 residents of Crook County have received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine and 226 have received a second dose. This is in addition to the 60 first and second doses administered by Crook County Medical Services District directly to staff and patients.

Public Health is still urging residents to contact the office at 283-1142 to add your name to the waiting list for the vaccine. At this time, the county is still in Phase 1b of the vaccination plan, which generally includes persons aged 65 or over, frontline essential workers and individuals with certain medical conditions.

Fraud Alerts

The WDH has issued a warning to be wary of anyone calling you unexpectedly regarding COVID-19 or the vaccine. The department reminds citizens that vaccines are free and you will not be called asking for any payment or personal details such as your social security number.

Please do not provide these details if asked, WDH says. If you believe you have been contacted by a scammer, contact the Consumer Protection Unit in the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office at 307-777-6397.

Ongoing Stats

A single new case in Crook County over the last week has increased the tally to 385, although the number of probable cases recorded throughout the pandemic decreased at the same time to 32 and no active cases were reported, suggesting the case was a data adjustment. This county has now remained free of active confirmed cases for more than one week.

The state as a whole has seen another week of relatively low new daily cases, but nine new deaths reported.

The number of hospitalized patients had dropped to just 21 on February 23, with none of those patients hospitalized in Crook County.

This promising picture fits with the ongoing situation on a national level, which is also improved from earlier this year. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, spoke on Friday of an improving overall situation across the nation, including a 69% decrease in the seven-day average of new cases after hitting a national peak on January 11.

“The current seven-day average of approximately 77,000 cases is the lowest recorded since the end of October but still higher than the height of last summer’s peak,” she said.

Hospital admissions are also dropping nationwide, with a 56% decline since the January 9 peak. According to Walensky, the death rate continues to fluctuate and is now at an average of 2700 per day.

Half a Million Deaths

However, a much more bleak statistic has been recorded this week. National news sources reported that the number of deaths in America due to COVID-19 reached 500,000 as the week began.

On Monday, Governor Mark Gordon ordered that flags be flown half-staff until February 26 at sunset to remember those lost to the virus.

“As of this week during the dark winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 500,000 Americans have now died from the virus. That is more Americans who have died in a single year of this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined,” states the Presidential Proclamation that spurred the announcement.

According to John Hopkins University, the U.S. has now experienced the most deaths of any country in the world and twice as many as the next nation on the list, which is Brazil at around 247,000 deaths.

However, the U.S. also has a higher population than many others near the top of the list and has had more cases than any other nation at 28.1 million (the next highest number of cases on John Hopkins’ list of most-affected countries is India at just over 11 million). A rate of 152.49 deaths per 100,000 people places the U.S. ninth in the list, with a fatality rate of 1.8%.

Walensky also issued a statistic that serves as a reminder of the impact the pandemic has had on this nation.

“Another reminder of the devastating impact of the pandemic has had on our country was brought into clear view yesterday in a report released by the CDC on the provisional life expectancy in the first half of 2020,” said Walensky. 

“The report found that life expectancy was at its lowest level in 15 years, dropping by a full year compared to the life expectancy in 2019. This represents a substantial decline in life expectancy in our nation.”

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