Twin Brothers’ Deaths In Cody Attributed To COVID-19; Siblings Died On Christmas Day

Kurt and Michael Knight, who were 61 years old, died on Christmas Day, according to an obituary composed by their family.

January 08, 20215 min read

(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

Twin brothers who were found deceased at their Cody home late last month died from complications due to COVID-19, said Park County Coroner Tim Power.

Kurt and Michael Knight, who were 61 years old, died on Christmas Day, according to an obituary composed by their family.

“Kurt and Michael were very closely bonded, as only twins can be, their entire life,” their obituary says.

The Louisiana natives had lived together for years, and Kurt was an employee at Cody Regional Health. Cody police responded to the Knights’ Sheridan Avenue home on the evening of Dec. 26, after a co-worker reported one of the men had failed to show up for work and wasn’t answering phone calls. Responding officers found the men had died in separate bedrooms, with no indications of anything suspicious, said Power, the coroner. Cody police said portable air quality monitors were used to rule out carbon monoxide or other combustible gases in the home.

No one will ever know exactly what happened, Power said, but it appeared the Knights had become seriously ill from COVID-19 and “they just couldn’t do anything to help themselves, let alone each other, probably.”

In the Knights’ obituary, family members wrote that the brothers “entered this life together and went to heaven together, never knowing the other passed away to heaven, too.”

“Their joyous laughter, especially when they were exhorting one another about God, will be missed but is now a gift to heaven,” family members wrote.

Both brothers tested positive for COVID-19: one on Dec. 17 and the other following his death, Power said. Authorities found no indication the men sought emergency medical attention for the disease, he said.

“There’s so many conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and ‘it’s not real’ and ‘it’s not this,’ or ‘it isn’t that’ — and I’m not saying that some causes of death might be questionable in what they’re doing on death certificates in some instances [in other states],” Power said. However, in this case, he said, “it is definitely COVID; I don’t think there’s any question about it.”

Power waited until receiving the second brother’s positive test result for COVID-19 on Wednesday before releasing the cause of death. No autopsies were conducted.

Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin had announced four new COVID-related deaths on Dec. 27, and he confirmed his count included the Knights.

The vast majority of people who are infected with the disease recover on their own at home, but the novel coronavirus can cause serious illness or prove fatal. 

The deaths of 13 Park County residents have been tied to COVID-19 since March, Billin has said, out of nearly 2,000 confirmed and probable cases. Ten of those deaths have been confirmed by the Wyoming Department of Health as COVID-related, with death certificates having yet to be finalized for the three most recent deaths.

Billin said there’s been a predictable pattern amid the pandemic: testing shows an increased presence of the novel coronavirus in Powell and Cody sewage, then there’s an increase in the number of daily new cases, followed by more hospitalizations and then deaths. He said each step is generally separated by one or two weeks.

Power said he thinks “we’ve just seen the beginning of it for our area.”

However, Billin pointed to a couple positive signs.

“Wastewater testing is definitely trending downward,” he said in a Thursday email. “Daily new cases may be beginning to trend down.”

As of Monday, the Department of Health was reporting 134 active confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in the county, down roughly 26% from the 182 active cases Billin had reported on Dec. 13; during that same time period, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county dropped from 14 to six.

Billin said it’s likely Park County will see more hospitalizations and deaths before this wave is over.

“How long this wave lasts and if there will be another one is mostly influenced by: 1. Adherence to masking, physical distancing, staying home when sick, and cooperation with contact tracing. 2. Wide scale vaccination,” Billin said in the Thursday email.

Park County has begun receiving small quantities of COVID-19 vaccines and those doses have generally been distributed to healthcare workers and first responders. Senior living and long-term care facilities are high priorities, public health officials said in a Wednesday news release, adding they’ll soon be reaching out to seniors and higher at-risk groups.

“Everyone who wants a vaccine will be afforded the opportunity to receive the two doses as vaccine becomes more available,” Kelly Croft, a public information officer for Park County Public Health, wrote in the release, adding, “Please be patient.”

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