As local healthcare providers work to get as many people at high risk for COVID-19 infections as possible vaccinated again the virus, a local health official says she feels like ''the end is in sight" for the pandemic in the area.

But officials say the biggest challenge right now is getting enough vaccine to meet the demand for the shots.

Kathy Emmons, Executive Director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, made the comments at a news conference on the local vaccination effort on Monday morning at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

Emmons went on to say that by July if all goes well, "we are going to have a really good handle on this. And that is where we start getting to the end." She went on to say that she doesn't know exactly what getting back to normal will look like, "But I don't think we'll have as many restrictions in place. Will we still be wearing masks? I don't know.''

But she said that in view of the local vaccination effort, officials are hoping for a marked decline in the number of new cases in 3-4 months and a possible easing of restrictions by the middle of the year or so.

CRMC CEO Tim Thornell said that as of Monday morning, there were 24 people hospitalized at the Cheyenne hospital, with five of those people in intensive care and three on life support. the hospital, which is one of several local organizations vaccinating people against the virus, vaccinated roughly 2000 people last week and hopes to give roughly another 1,000 people shots this week.

Countywide, the emphasis so far has been getting the highest-risk healthcare workers and residents of long term care facilities vaccinated. The next phase--categorized as phase 1B will be giving shots to other high-risk healthcare and essential and the general population above age 70.

That will be followed by phase 1C, which includes general essential workers and people with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus. The graphic below shows local organizations offering the vaccinations and who can get the shots:







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