More COVID tests are being distributed around Park County to assist in contact tracing efforts as case numbers remain high.

Park County Public Health Nurse Bill Crampton said the Wyoming Department of Health has purchased 750,000 nucleic acid amplification COVOD-19 tests that have been disbursed to medical facilities and schools throughout Park County. Cue Health rapid tests are part of this purchase and have also been ordered for the county and schools but are not available for use yet, Crampton said. He also said a total of 1,200 antigen tests each will be made available at Cody Regional Health and Powell Valley.

Crampton said although it takes about 10-15 minutes to get a result back from an antigen test and 25-30 with Cue, the latter are more accurate, with a comparable dependability to a PCR test, with a much quicker result determined.

Park County Public Health is giving out free tests to any business that wants to have some on-hand for their staff, but Park County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin recommends people acquire the free Vault tests offered by the Wyoming Department of Health to have ready before symptoms arise.

“The problem is when people perceive a need to test … they want to test now,” Billin said. “When I got sick, I used a test I had sitting in my bathroom for a year.”

He said a certain amount of “gray area” exists when it comes to the accuracy of antigen tests, where it has returned conflicting results with the more accurate PCR tests. This is where a bit of deduction comes in, also known as pre-test probability, where the significance of symptoms is weighed with the accuracy of the test taken.

“If you test negative (with an antigen test), that should be backed up with a PCR test,” Billin said. Similarly, someone with no symptoms who tests positive with an antigen test should also have those results backed up with a PCR test, he added.

Crampton said applying these techniques is no issue for a medical professional, but for the average layman, such a National Guard member administering tests, the reliability of analysis can get a bit hazier.

“I can train a monkey to do that test but I can’t train a monkey to decipher what that test really means,” Crampton said.

On Monday, the National Guard started assisting at Cody Regional and the Long Term Care Center. Billin said medically trained National Guard members are being kept in their home communities.

Billin said very few asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic people are getting tested locally at this point. On the flipside, Crampton said there was an issue last year with too many people taking tests just as an attempt to get off work.

Since the beginning of the month, around 10,000 COVID-19 tests were taken in Park County.

As of Saturday, Park County had a 16.4% test positivity rate, the highest it has been since the pandemic began, a mark considered extremely dangerous by Covid Act Now, a local-level disease intelligence and analysis nonprofit. This rate is more than double the average test positivity rate for Park County since the pandemic began.

As of Saturday there were 173 active cases in the county. Billin said the most recent wastewater testing is starting to show a decline in the virus’s presence in Cody, typically the first harbinger of case trends.

(2) comments

Viv McCord

Are you calling National Guard Members monkeys? Cause that's what it read like

Mitch Asay

I agree, if we are monkeys then your a poor zoo keeper

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