(Wind River Reservation, WY) – The following statement was released from Dr. Paul Ebbert of Wind River Family & Community Health Care (WRFCHC).
“Over the weekend the state confirmed that there are at least two variants of the Coronavirus circulating in Fremont County. One of these is the UK variant that is more contagious, has a higher rate of hospitalization and a higher death rate. The other variant is called the California variant which is also more contagious and less responsive to treatment.
“The good news is that so far the vaccines seem to be effective against these variants. So please if you have not gotten your vaccine yet please do so soon. Getting large numbers of people vaccinated is the way that we are going to get out of this pandemic and get back to normal.
“Out of thousands of vaccines given we have only had 16 people who tested positive after they were fully vaccinated. None of these people have needed to be hospitalized. Some of them had no symptoms at all and were discovered on screening at work. If you are vaccinated and exposed you do not need to be quarantined however if you get any kind of symptoms you still need to get tested. We also have had many tribal members who have gotten the virus two and even three times. Many of these people have gotten very sick. We also have a lot of tribal members who have had prolonged symptoms even after they are no longer positive for the virus.
“With the variants in the community it remains very important that people wear their masks, social distance and continue to get tested if they are sick. This virus can have all kinds of symptoms so do not just right off your symptoms to a common cold or the stomach flu. Get tested to be sure so that we do not spread more of the virus and especially these variants in the community.
“The number of new cases is down from our peak during the winter. However we are still at the same level as we were during last summer’s spike. The ceremonial elders, the Business Council and Wind River Cares met to start preparing for pipe fast and Sundance. The safety precautions for the ceremonies will be very similar to last year. If you are going to be a direct participant you must get tested prior to your participation in the ceremonies. If you are sick or have symptoms you should stay away from the ceremonies. We do have a new tool that we did not have last year and that is the vaccines. Direct participants in the ceremonies will be required to get their vaccines completed prior to participation in the ceremonies. You cannot wait and get your vaccine at the last minute because you are not considered fully vaccinated until at least two weeks after your last shot.
“These precautions will help protect our elders and other tribal members. I had to go to Walmart last week and I was proud to see so many tribal members wearing their masks. keep up the good work, get your vaccine and hopefully this pandemic will be behind us by the end of the year.”