In a video Tuesday morning, Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell once again called on citizens to mask up and get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Dowell said the intensive care unit at Wyoming Medical Center is currently full. Additionally, 64 people at the hospital are infected with COVID-19. Fifty-two are still isolated with 12 out of isolation but still hospitalized with COVID complications.

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He added that the hospital census is the highest he's seen since he came to Wyoming in 1993. Of those, 1/3 are COVID-related.

"This is a big problem overall," Dowell said.

WMC is having to cancel elective procedures, he added.

Dowell said that the vaccination rate in Natrona County has stagnated at roughly 35%. COVID numbers, Dowell said, are comparable to what they were last year. Of the people hospitalized, most are unvaccinated. Those who were vaccinated and still hospitalized, typically are very old or have immunity issues.

There are no plans for a mask mandate in Natrona County, but Dowell still strongly advocated for wearing masks when out in public.

"We're in a mess right now and I don't think I'm going to get anywhere with masking," he said. "There are no plans to do any kind of mask ordinance or mandate. I'm just strongly advocating (wearing masks) including in the schools. The numbers speak for themselves."

As for the county's low vaccination rate, Dowell, an infectious disease expert, said he is "incredibly frustrated."

"I'm frankly tired of seeing incredibly sick people, people dying that don't need to die and people saying to me after they're hospitalized, 'Gosh, I should have gotten the vaccine."¬if_id=1634060699502698¬if_t=watch_follower_video_explicit&ref=notif

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