While COVID-19 cases in Wyoming have been dropping somewhat in recent weeks, going from a seven day average of 480 on Sept. 7 to 445 on Oct. 6, hospitals are still being inundated with COVID-19 patients.

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The Wyoming Medical Center in particular has seen a large amount of COVID-19 patients, with them reporting to the Wyoming Department of Health 51 COVID-19 patients on Oct 6, the most it's had since Dec. 3.

Dr. Andy Dunn, chief of primary care at the medical center, said that while they are dealing with a similar amount of COVID-19 patients this year, compared to last Sept., the hospital has been able to approach the current situation in a more organized manner.

"Last fall wasn't pleasant, but boy we learned a lot from last fall and just continue to evolve with it. There's an atmosphere of calmness, I think we're doing a great job of communicating, we have several different layers of triage planning in place, so this isn't our first rodeo."

Despite the calm atmosphere, Dunn said everyone at the hospital is working a lot harder than they have before.

"The first time around, we just felt like there was an insight, there was a sense of accomplishment, we were knocking this down. To have it come back around and maybe persist a bit longer, it's harder for health care professionals, we're working harder, everyone's working so much harder, 20, 30 hours more than previously. I can say that for myself since July anyway. There's that moral fatigue."

Though he isn't sure of the exact number, Dunn said in the past month he has treated at least over 100 COVID-19 patients, all with varying levels of severity.

While the Department of Health currently lists the medical center as having one intensive care unit bed open out of 20, Mandy Cepeda, director of marketing and public relations for the Banner Wyoming Medical Center, said that though that number may be accurate at the time it's reported, that number fluctuates as well.

Even though doctors like Dunn have been doing what they can to treat patients to the best of their ability, Dunn said there are still some who insist on seeking alternative forms of treatment.

"Patients are coming in refusing to believe they have COVID, or refusing to believe that the treatments available are deemed academically and research appropriate, that's been very difficult, we've seen more of that this time around. I appreciate and understand where everyone is coming from...One patient had me call their doctor in California, who wanted us to treat their patient with ivermectin, and I had a long conversation with that doctor, he was a different type of doctor, and I was able to do that and inform the patient. Through that I was able to get that patients trust and rapport, and we did not use ivermectin. That patient's hospitalization went much better as opposed to just dismissing what that patient knew and felt and doing what I knew without talking about...last fall we had patients ask about hydroxychloroquine and then this time we've had ivermectin."

Dunn said they haven't treated anyone with ivermectin, because it is not part of treatment for COVID-19.

Dunn said it's important for people in the community to get the vaccine, as it helps keep people out of hospitals and lowers the severity of COVID-19 if people do catch it.

"[Vaccination] is everything, it's our best protection against it. I think we've had an uptick in first time vacciners, public health and retailers are doing boosters, which is great...the more vaccines that we can give out, the better. Protecting people against the severity, the progression of the disease. Not getting it per se, but from being hospitalized or going into the ICU. Vaccine rates are everything...a higher vaccine rate, the lower amount of severe patients we'll have and we need to increase our vaccine rate to reduce the hospital and resource burden."

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in Wyoming 42.1% of the population currently is fully vaccinated, but to reach herd immunity Dunn said would require 90% of the population to get vaccinated, because of how infectious the delta variant is.

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