CASPER, Wyo. — While Natrona County’s COVID-19 rates have fallen slightly from their midsummer spike, the virus is likely to become more prevalent in the area in coming months.
Natrona County has seen a few periodic spikes during summer 2022 that have been attributed to new variants such as BA.5, summer travel and ease of COVID-19 restrictions. However, rates have largely fallen in the month of August.
According to Wyoming’s COVID-19 case dashboard, the county saw 29 lab-confirmed cases on Aug. 1. This number was higher than the county had seen for a single day since February this year. However, daily cases have steadily declined since, with 16 confirmed positives on Aug. 4 and fewer in the following days.
Combining both probable and lab-confirmed cases, Natrona County has seen a total of 102 positives since Tuesday, Aug. 9. The county’s seven-day average was 7.9 confirmed cases on Aug. 15, having steadily declined since the first of the month.
However, county health professionals are prepared to see these numbers increase in the near future. “We expect to continue to see an increase in testing and positivity as we head back into fall and back into normal activity like school,” wrote Casper-Natrona County Health Department Public Information Officer Hailey Bloom in a text message.
“This is a typical trend we have seen every year at this time,” she continued. Indeed, colder weather tends to lead to an uptick in cases, as people spend more time indoors. Higher humidity and low temperatures can also keep the virus stable for longer while it’s airborne, while less sunlight and colder air can lower immune response.
Vaccine immunity is also waning, Bloom previously told Oil City, explaining that most who got a booster did so by mid-January. Less than half of Natrona County is fully vaccinated against the virus, with 46.53% of the population holding the status as of Aug. 8.
“Of course we are hopeful for a new vaccine variation this fall to boost immunity, but we are unsure what that will look like or the timeline,” Bloom wrote.
The county is currently at a “medium” risk level for the virus, according to the CDC. While the CDC has relaxed many of its recommendations for quarantine and screening, masks are recommended in areas where risk is deemed “high” as well as for people who are high-risk for severe illnesses. The county was within the “high” level last month.
The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.