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In a trend similar to previous years, serious COVID cases are rising again in the Mountain West

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News brief: 

COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising across much of the Mountain West and nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This trend mirrors patterns from previous years, but healthcare experts say the U.S. is well-equipped to handle another surge in infections and emergency room visits.

Spikes in coronavirus activity have been recently reported in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Idaho. In Wyoming, State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said more people are likely getting infected as they return to more normal work and school schedules from the summer season.

“I don't think that necessarily that we're seeing an increase in severity of disease, I think the hospitalizations and emergency department visits are really reflecting that we're seeing more spread,” she said. “We're still well below the peaks that we've seen in those previous years.”

Harrist also noted that multiple new COVID-19 variants have emerged this summer, which could be leading to more cases and hospitalizations. For older folks or at-risk health groups, increased coronavirus prevalence could be a concern.

However, unlike in previous years, Harrist said there are multiple steps people can take to remain healthy, including vaccinations and medications. She also recommends that people wear masks if they’re showing symptoms of the virus.

“We have many, many more tools against COVID-19 than we had at that earlier point,” Harrist said. “[We’re] really just encouraging people to take use of those tools, whether it be testing or vaccines, or those effective treatments.”

An updated booster shot will also likely be available later this fall.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is currently a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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