COVID community update: Young adults are most infected, masks are working

JACKSON, Wyo. — The latest COVID community update has shown that young adults in Teton County are the most infected ones, following a nationwide trend.

“People in that age group are not immune to severe illness from this disease,” said Teton County Health Officer, Dr. Travis Riddell. “I’m quite concerned that this group will end up transmitting this disease across the population into other groups.”

Riddell noted that a spike in younger adults can lead to a spike for all age groups, which would lead to a hospital increase, and eventually, a death increase.

“The people that they are interacting with every day may be high-risk folks,” Riddell said. “These are essential people that we need in our community and it is our responsibility to protect them. We need people in that age group to start helping us out here.”

Those who spoke at the meeting explained that they have seen more people wearing masks in town than before the emergency mask ordinance was created.

“I’ve definitely seen an increase in masks not only in businesses but out on the streets,” Riddell said.

Masks are not required outside in most circumstances, but Riddell still expressed his gratitude for those wearing a mask outside. “It’s crowded out there and I think people are really smart who are starting to do that more and more,” he said.

The county is still waiting for a health order approval from the state. Riddell said it is important to include other areas outside of Jackson, like Teton Village, Grand Targhee, and areas south of town.

According to Jodie Pond, Teton County Director of Health, the recent mask ordinance in Jackson has been proving effective. Just a week ago there was an infection rate at 10.4 per 100,000. This week the number has already decreased to 9.1 per 100,000.

Pond said that you can help by keeping your social bubbles small, and assume everyone you come into contact with is positive.

“We had cases where we had upwards of 30 contacts that we had to trace,” Pond said. The more people that the health department tracks with contact tracing, the more time and resources are spent.

The health department did not notice an uptick in cases after the George Floyd protests drew out several hundred protestors in Jackson, Pond said. The majority of protestors appeared to be conscious of the pandemic and wearing masks despite gathering in large numbers.

The Jackson Chamber of Commerce has been busy on the frontlines communicating the ordinance to our visitors and offering free masks. So far they said they have given away 76,000 masks, and the Wyoming Office of Tourism is sending Jackson another 200,000 to give to businesses and visitors.

Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon said that they are not able to go into every business to check if people are wearing masks, it’s still a law.

“This is an ordinance, it’s a law, not a recommendation. There are consequences to violating it,” Muldoon said.

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