Health experts encourage community to do their part as cases and hospitalizations grow ahead of Cheyenne Frontier Days

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - For the last few months, Laramie County has been the hotspot in the state for new COVID-19 cases. It has also recently seen a rise in hospitalizations due to COVID-19. This had led Cheyenne Regional Medical Center to ask the community to “pull together as a community to eliminate preventable suffering and death from COVID-19.”

“COVID is running still pretty rampant in our community, and it may not be so easily recognizable but we fully recognize it here at the hospital,” said, CRMC President and CEO, Tim Thornell.

Thornell said that, as of today, around 20% of their current hospitalizations are COVID related patients. Of the 26 COVID patients currently hospitalized, 17 are under the age of 60. Seven of the 26 are in the Intensive Care Unit and six are on ventilators. Of the 26 hospitalized patients, only one is fully vaccinated and another is partially vaccinated.

“We have more COVID patients in the hospital today than we had in the first seven months of COVID activity last year,”

Age rangeNumber of hospitalized

Thornell said the community has two options of how they can do their part; by getting a COVID-19 vaccine or wearing a mask.

“Doing one of those two things will really make a huge positive impact in our community, and at the end of the day it will save lives for your family members, for your fellow residents in Laramie County and Wyoming, so it’s the right thing to do at this point in time.”

CRMC has determined that 88 of its last 100 patients treated at the hospital did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Thornell said he knows CRMC can handle more hospitalizations, but reminds the community that it puts even more stress on all departments in the hospital.

CRMC is not alone in their concerns for the community, as the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department is also closely monitoring the situation. Especially as the city prepares for the 125th “Daddy of ‘Em All.”

“About 98% of those cases in the state, of positive COVID cases of the delta variant, were in Laramie County. So we definitely are the nexus of all Delta Variant cases in the state.”

Though CLCHD is concerned with the rise in cases, it does not plan to institute new health restrictions. Emmons said it would be hard to tighten up what they have been able to loosen in the last six months.

Emmons said at this time, she hopes the community can do the right thing by receiving their COVID vaccine, or wearing a mask if you are not vaccinated. With Wyoming still one of the lowest vaccinated states in the country, Emmons said she’s been saddened with the national recognition the state has gotten.

“I find it really discouraging that we’re being recognized right now for our deficits, rather than our successes. ...I just think that doesn’t bode well for the state, we’re a whole lot better than that.”

Emmons said CLCHD is partnering with Cheyenne Frontier Days to give those attending access to testing and vaccinations on the grounds. CLCHD will also be open Monday through Friday during CFD for COVID testing 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that week as well.

You can find the full editorial from the CRMC staff below.

“The Medical Staff leadership, Administration and Board of Trustees of Cheyenne Regional Medical Center would like to express our concern over the recent surge of preventable suffering and death related to COVID-19 in our community. Our hospital is averaging over 26 hospitalized COVID-19 patients per day, and these patients often have to stay for weeks. Our COVID-19 patients are also getting younger in age, and it is not just the “old” and immunocompromised who are being hospitalized and dying; we now see a more normal age distribution of those contracting COVID-19 and being hospitalized. This death and suffering is preventable if we as a community step up and choose either to be vaccinated or to wear masks and socially distance ourselves.

Our low vaccination rate is a significant contributor to Laramie County experiencing a much higher percentage of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 than any other Wyoming county. With only 31 percent of Wyoming residents vaccinated, our state rates 47th in the nation. Our state also has the 6th highest rate of hospitalized patients per 100,000 in the United States. (Again, Laramie County has a much higher hospitalization rate than the state does.) Wyoming’s current trajectory is clearly not one of recovery, but of continued suffering from COVID-19. We can’t get back to “normal” if we don’t take action to set ourselves on the right path.

Adding to the concern, over 30 percent of people who contract COVID-19 are also experiencing ongoing symptoms known as “long-haul syndrome.” Those who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 are almost twice as likely to get this syndrome (also known as “Long COVID”). Long-COVID symptoms include needing to utilize oxygen support, having a persistent cough and shortness of breath as well as suffering from lingering and debilitating fatigue, brain fog or cognitive dysfunction, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

The COVID-19 patients we care for at CRMC are from Wyoming families. They are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother or friend. They are our retail clerks, hospitality workers and teachers. They are an important part of our community! These COVID-19 patients are connected to us, and they help our city and county thrive, whether we know them personally or not. Our staff don’t want to senselessly lose any more of our community members. Like all of you, we frequently hear comments that COVID-19 is “like having a cold” or “doesn’t really exist.” We know firsthand this isn’t accurate, and we don’t want you or your family members to experience the devastation we have seen and been through.

The Laramie County Health Department reports that most COVID-19 cases can be traced to gatherings where the participants are not vaccinated or are not wearing masks. Our hospital and health system are concerned that with upcoming holiday and event celebrations, we risk even more widespread transmission of COVID-19.

We are not suggesting that our community not celebrate or enjoy themselves. However, we do ask that our community celebrate and enjoy time with others responsibly. If we all do our part, we can see safer days and make meaningful progress toward reducing the significant risks posed by COVID-19.

Here is our ask:

  • Please consider getting vaccinated. Vaccinations are free and widely available in our community, and they are the safest, most effective method to help us prevent ongoing suffering and death.
  • If you are the organizer of a social, family or community gathering, please ensure that all participants either are vaccinated or use masks and social distance themselves. Having events outdoors is beneficial, but it is not an adequate substitute for vaccinations or wearing masks. If organizers are unable to ensure vaccination or mask usage, we would encourage postponing such events.

Our extremely talented and dedicated staff are working hard around the clock to battle COVID-19 and save lives. We ask you, as our fellow citizens of Cheyenne and Laramie County, to please partner with us not only to protect yourselves but to protect your fellow citizens and eliminate the preventable suffering and death in our community.”

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