EVANSTON — The COVID-19 pandemic situation has continued to improve in Uinta County and Wyoming in recent weeks and Gov. Mark Gordon has continued to ease public health orders and restrictions in light of that improvement. The updated health orders will remain in effect through at least Feb. 28.
The statewide mask mandate for all adults in public places will continue; however, other restrictions have eased. As of Feb. 15, tables of up to eight will be allowed in restaurants, up from the previous limitation of six. Exceptions can be made if all those eating together reside in the same household.
Gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed without social distancing requirements and event size limitations have eased considerably. Indoor events may allow up to 25% of venue capacity with a maximum of 500 people, provided distancing and mask requirements are in place. Outdoor events may allow up to 50% of venue capacity with a maximum of 1,000 people, provided distancing and mask requirements are in place. Previously, indoor events were limited to 250 people and outdoor events to 500.
In a press release, Gordon said, “We are making good progress against this virus. Levels are returning to where they were before the dangerous spike in November and some counties have lifted restrictions. This is good news thanks to Wyoming’s people.”
Vaccination efforts in Uinta County, Wyoming and nationally have also continued. The county is currently in the process of vaccinating those who are age 65 and older, healthcare workers, first responders and members of law enforcement. Evanston residents age 70-plus who received their first vaccinations at a mass clinic in January received their second doses at another mass clinic on a bitterly cold day on Monday, Feb. 15, while Bridger Valley residents in the same category will receive their second doses in a clinic on Friday, Feb. 19.
Clinics for K-12 educators will likely be arranged at area schools over the next two weeks, according to Uinta County Public Health Nurse Manager Kim Proffit, and other priority groups will follow, including child care workers, essential workers and those with high-risk medical conditions. Additional information on the Wyoming Department of Health vaccine eligibility prioritization schedule can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/.
In addition to the vaccines administered by public health, Walmart pharmacy in Evanston is now also offering appointments to those who fall into the current vaccination priority groups. According to a press release from Walmart, more than 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in 22 states received vaccine allocations last week. Locations that could reach customers in underserved communities with limited access to healthcare were selected to participate in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, through which pharmacies receive vaccine allocations directly from the federal government. To make an appointment at the Evanston Walmart, visit https://www.walmart.com/cp/1228302.
As of Friday, Feb. 12, WDH said approximately 100 healthcare providers across the state were administering COVID-19 vaccination shots, with another 75 approved to do so as vaccine supplies increase. “While overall available vaccine dose amounts remain low right now compared to high demand, we are seeing modest, continued increases in shipments we received from the federal government of the authorized vaccines, as well as more partners and providers coming on board,” said Angie Van Houten, community health section chief with WDH. As of last Friday, approximately 11% of Wyoming’s population had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Both vaccines currently approved for use in the United States require a two-dose series.
The vaccines are free, and insurance is not required to be vaccinated, although patients may be asked to provide their Medicare or insurance cards for payments to those administering the shots.
Dr. Alexia Harrist said it continues to remain important to abide by public health orders even as the situation improves and vaccination efforts reach more Wyoming residents, particularly given new more contagious variants of COVID-19 that have been identified in the state. “We are not there yet, but we are on the path back to normal and every day we get closer,” she said.
Proffit emphasized the importance of keeping transmission down as well. “Masking remains extremely important as the new variants start to move around. That along with vaccination are the big strategies to prevent the new variants from getting a hold,” she said. “We hope to keep the transmission low.”
As of Monday, Feb. 15, there were 34 active COVID-19 cases in Uinta County reported on the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security Information Sharing Platform, with 773 active cases statewide. Uinta County has had 12 confirmed fatalities while there have been 647 confirmed COVID-19 related fatalities statewide. Nearly 10% of Uinta County’s residents, or 1,994, have already had a confirmed case of infection and 53,136 confirmed cases have been reported statewide.