JACKSON, Wyo. (KIFI) – On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its framework for how the COVID-19 risk levels are determined for each community. The new framework is focused on community risk levels and hopes to minimize the impacts of severe COVID-19 illness on a community while protecting those who are the most vulnerable, compared to the old framework that focused on transmission risk levels. The framework has three levels of risk, low (green), medium (yellow), and high (orange).
This new framework incorporates three metrics:
• New cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days,
• New hospital admissions with confirmed COVID-19 per 100,000 population over the last 7 days, and
• The percent of inpatient beds occupied with COVID-19 patients averaged over the last 7 days.
Based on data for these new metrics, the CDC reports Teton County’s current COVID-19 risk level is medium (yellow).
This new guidance coincides with new recommendations for individual and household-level preventative measures along with community-level strategies that can be used to reduce a person’s risk of exposure to COVID-19. The CDC is updating its recommendations for indoor mask wearing and no longer recommends universal indoor mask wearing in K-12 and childcare settings when the COVID-19 community level is low or medium. A full description of the CDC’s new metrics and associated guidance is available HERE.
With these changes, the Teton County District Health Officer is rescinding Recommendation #12, which recommends mask wearing in specific situations.
It should be noted there are still specific situations where mask wearing is still required, including in medical or healthcare settings and in settings that are under the Federal Mask Mandate such as on airplanes, buses, taxis, ride-shares, subways, ferries, ships, etc. Organizations and businesses may continue to require masks on their premises at their discretion.
Regardless of COVID-19 community risk levels, a person can wear a mask based on their personal preference and level of risk they are willing to take. Each individual and family has different circumstances. For example, some in the community may live with a grandparent, have had an organ transplant, have a child under 5 years of age who cannot be vaccinated, or live with someone at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
Officials ask you to be kind to your fellow community members regardless of their choice to wear a mask or not to wear a mask in public settings; we are all part of the same community.
As mentioned previously, Teton County COVID-19 situation has changed compared to the beginning of the pandemic.
- Teton County has a very high COVID-19 vaccination rate. As of February 28, 2022, 88.19% of Teton County's population has received the initial series of the COVID-19 vaccine according to the Wyoming Department of Health. This high level of community immunity reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 disease.
- Low hospitalizations and low population fatality rate from COVID-19, especially seen throughout the Omicron surge.
- The nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself is changing; the current circulating Omicron variant is more contagious but less likely to cause severe disease, particularly in a resilient community such as Teton County.
The Teton County Health Department’s dashboard and metrics webpage will be updated to reflect these new metrics used to determine the community risk level. The weekly COVID-19 NIXLE messages will also be adjusted to align with the new community risk level. Teton County Health Department has also provided additional guidance for those in our community who are the most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease, including individuals age 50+, the immunocompromised, individuals with other underlying health conditions, and the unvaccinated. By following these
additional precautions those who are the most vulnerable will be able to limit their exposure to COVID-19.
To view the metrics webpage with the guidance for the most vulnerable and community risk level, click HERE.
To go directly to the Teton County Health Department dashboard, click HERE.