Cody Regional Health

With local hospitalizations at an all-time high since the pandemic began, local officials are scrambling and looking for answers.

Nineteen patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Park County as of Saturday night, the highest mark since the pandemic began, at a rate of 67 per 100,000 residents, which is 42% higher than the state average and 63% higher than the national average. This number doesn’t count patients who were sent to other hospitals for more severe-level care. There were no intensive care unit beds open.

Due to the massive backlog of patients, Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin and Bill Crampton, Park County Public Health Nurse, said certain other types of care are being rationed, with some patients waiting up to eight hours for care in one example Crampton provided.

“I have personally kept patients at the ER in Powell (Valley Healthcare) many hours longer than I should of after car accidents, heart attacks, pneumonia, decompensated congestive heart failure – because there is no hospital that will accept them,” Billin said.

Billin said when most local patients get to the point where they need to put on a ventilator they’re moved to a hospital outside the area. At St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, he said it was at 100% capacity with 74 patients waiting for admittance into the emergency clinic one recent day.

“That means you’re sick enough to be in the hospital but there’s no bed upstairs for you,” Billin said, adding those patients were forced to stay on a gurney for multiple days in a row.

Billin said many of these patients were kept overnight and the ER was turned into a “mini-ICU” in order for those patients to get care.

He said the strain is particularly being felt at smaller hospitals like Cody Regional Health and Powell Valley, where these facilities are now being forced to take care of sicker patients than they normally would.

Billin said those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from a COVID-19 infection diagnosed within the last 90 days do not need to quarantine after a significant exposure if they remain asymptomatic, but should monitor their symptoms closely. If they become symptomatic they should quarantine and be tested for COVID-19.

Tracking the trends

Billin said it’s particularly hard to capture data from elderly patients, who often have poor memory and can’t remember if they’ve been vaccinated and, if so, how many doses they’ve received.

Although his data is unofficial, Crampton said Park County Public Health contact tracers are reporting 1-5% of positive cases to be vaccinated subjects, a phenomenon known as “breakthrough infections.”

“A percentage of those (vaccinated people) are going to the hospital,” Crampton said.

Billin said although the local sample sizes are still not large enough to be truly accurate, his data recently showed five of 373 new infections in Park County being second infections, and 2.2% among fully vaccinated people.

Last month the CDC was reporting lower numbers, with .02% of all infections belonging to vaccinated people. Also, at that time more than 90% of patients hospitalized with COVID were unvaccinated.

The CDC reported of the 183 million people fully vaccinated in the United States, 1,507 have died from the virus, a rate of .000008%.

Throughout the country, a consistent correlation can be found between high vaccination rates and low hospitilizations for the virus.

A total of 55.4% of Americans are fully vaccinated. In Park County that number is 37%, about 4% below the state average

Billin said he is working to develop local data on hospitalized patients and who are and who are not vaccinated.

“We feel it will really help with public confidence in vaccines,” he said.

The CDC reports vaccine effectiveness at 90% after two doses, and 80% after one. Another CDC study showed only 80% effectiveness in preventing COVID-19–related hospitalization among adults 65 years and older, compared to 95% among adults aged 18-64 years.

(15) comments

Scott Conger

Nuts. "infected at the same rate" not 1/2 the rate. Need to proofread better!

Scott Conger

Portugal is boasting themselves as the most vaccinated people on earth at 84% or nearly everyone that is eligible. Their deaths per a statistical 1 million people: 1745. Wyoming on the other hand, is only 41% fully vaccinated, but have suffered only 1721 deaths per a statistical 1 million people. Wyoming is infected at 1/2 the rate than a country which has twice that % of people vaccinated and is considered to be fully vaccinated. How can that be?

Charles Johnson

It might be that you are just bad at statistics... You are comparing death numbers since the beginning of the pandemic which includes the time when neither Portugal nor Wyoming had the vaccine. Currently, the average daily death rate in Wyoming is ~1/100,000 residents. That rate is nearly 20x lower in Portugal at 0.06/100,000 residents. Moral of the story...Get vaccinated.

Scott Conger

Jim Fisher I don't know what data set you used to state that Vermont has the lowest covid rate, but as of 2 days ago, they are coming off a large spike which is still higher than they had prior to vaccinations...and you're right...they are a mostly vaccinated state. Go figure.

Viv McCord

In response to Jim Fisher's comment I'd like to respectfully disagree. This area is special in the fact that we have has over a million tourists trail through here on their way to Yellowstone, They all stop at Walmart so we get exposed to every germ from the entire country. If this is such a threat why don't they close the park? And the border for that matter

Jim Guelde

The same folks who have no objection to warrantless searches… massive government surveillance and secret no-fly lists, are convinced that the Trump vaccine is a government plot to destroy their Constitutional Rights. Go figger.

Pete Demoney

At this point, if you are saying there is not enough information about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, you are being willfully ignorant.

Viv McCord

it's not effective, you can still get reinfected and spread it, right?

Viv McCord

Yeah some solid data may help with public confidence in the vaccine, but so far not so much

Patty Thompson

Viv, I agree 100%. On the KULR-8 news, Riverstone Health reports new cases, hospitalizations & deaths daily. Most hospitalized, in ICU & deaths are unvaccinated. If Yellowstone County is willing to report that info, Park County should. It might inspire many people to get vaccinated who otherwise weren’t planning to. More anti-vaccine people are scared now as the Delta Variant hit suddenly & spread fast. Over the weekend, Billings hospitals lost 3 patients. Ages 40, 50+ & 60. None had been vaccinated. Most patients filling their ICU & COVID wings expanded into the ambulance area are unvaccinated red

with COVID requiring hospitalization. There needs to be several drive through testing sites in Park County w/fast results. The Walgreens one took

Me 4 days & results came at 10PM on a Friday night➕ My family member was on Day 8; near the end. People can become critical in that length of time. Why doesn’t Cody have drive through testing sites?

Viv McCord

Well great, then I would like a report weekly from our local hospital giving stats on how many people were hospitalized, their ages and health conditions and how many were vaccinated and not vaccinated and if they recovered or died, and we had a drive through testing site at the rodeo grounds for quite a while. In Cody it's a little different because we are a small community and we all know each other for the most part, so we see how many are dying and we know if our neighbors are vaxxed or not

Charles Johnson

While not exhaustive, it seems to me that there is a lot of useful information in this article. I'd be curious to know what data do you feel you need to be convinced?

Mitch Asay

It's the flu season, some me the science noone can

Jim Fisher

I agree. There is plenty of data out there. Park County , WY is not special, just maybe a little late to this surge. Look at any state you like and data can be found that supports unvaccinated are filling hospitals and vaccinated are not. What state has the highest vacination rate?? Vermont. Guess what state has the lowest covid case rate??

Viv McCord

Useful info would be how does the hospital determine if a patient is unvaccinated? Is that someone who has had one shot? Or two shots but not yet two weeks out from those shots? Or not yet two weeks out from the 3rd booster shot?

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