CASPER, Wyo —The Wyoming Department of Health confirmed the state’s first case of the “UK variant” Saturday, Jan. 16.
WDH said the variant was identified in a Teton County adult male by a commercial healthcare lab.
“While further investigation is ongoing, early information suggests exposure to the virus variant occurred locally,” the WDH release Saturday said.
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Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said the department is not surprised and expected the variant would be found in Wyoming at some point.
“It is not unusual for variants to emerge with viruses and that’s been happening during this pandemic with COVID-19,” Harrist said. “However, this strain is more transmissible than previous COVID-19 variants and that is a serious concern.”
Harrist noted the UK variant does not appear to cause illnesses to be more serious. “But a variant spreading more easily between people means the number of infections could grow causing more illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths,” she said. “That’s something no one wants.”
Currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are believed to be effective against the ‘B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant’ strain, WDH said.
Harrist said it is still very important for Wyoming residents to wear masks, physically distance, avoid large gatherings, and stay home when feeling ill except to seek medical care.
“We also don’t want people to avoid testing if they may have been exposed or are have symptoms that could be COVID-19,” Harrist said.
Vaccine distribution and at-home COVID-19 testing information can be found on the state health website.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.