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Six New Coronavirus Cases Reported In Wyoming On Monday

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of coronavirus cases seen in Wyoming since the illness first reached the state in mid-March  increased by six on Monday to reach 644.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, reported new cases were detected in Albany, Big Horn and Fremont counties.

As of Monday afternoon, Fremont County had 220 cases; Laramie County had 122 cases; Teton County had 69 cases; Natrona County had 57; Washakie County had 27; Albany County had 20; Campbell and Sweetwater had 17; Converse and Johnson had 14; Sheridan had 12; Lincoln had 11; Carbon and Uinta had nine; Hot Springs had eight; Crook had five; Goshen had four; Big Horn had four, and Park had two. Niobrara, Platte and Sublette counties each had one case.

Weston County remained the only county in the state without a coronavirus case.

The number of recoveries went up on Monday by 24, all in Fremont County, to total 599, including 450 among patients with confirmed cases of the virus and 149 among those with probable cases.

A probable case is defined as one where a patient shows symptoms of coronavirus and had been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness. As of Sunday, the Department of Health said the state had 200 probable cases.

The number of active cases in the state stood at 244 on Monday, with 174 active confirmed cases and 50 active probable cases.  [READ MORE]

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Denver Mail Facility Handling Wyoming Mail Refuses to Close

in Coronavirus/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The United States Postal Service distribution center in Denver, which processes most of Wyoming’s mail, is pushing back against orders from the city and county of Denver for it to temporarily close because of a possible coronavirus outbreak.

Facility spokesman David Rupert told Cowboy State Daily in a phone interview that USPS employees are a bit confused as to why the city and county chose to try and shut down the facility now.

“[Denver] public health told us we’ve had five cases [of the virus] and our last positive case was May 2,” he said. “In corona terms, that’s a long time.”

The facility processes 10 million pieces of mail per day for all but extreme western Wyoming and all of Colorado. In one year, it processes about 1.4 billion pieces of mail, and that’s just the numbers for incoming parcels and letters. Wyoming’s mail is sent to sorting centers in Cheyenne, Casper and Rock Springs.

Rupert said that on Wednesday, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment staff attempted to visit the facility in response to reports of “clusters of COVID-19 cases involving multiple employees at several USPS locations over the last week.”

The spokesman noted that the DDPHE staff members arrived unannounced at the secure federal facility, spoke with a “random” employee and were denied entry to the building.

Rupert added that since the DDPHE staff have no knowledge of USPS’ attempt to protect its employees and the public, he and the other Denver USPS officials are confused by the shutdown order.

In a tweet issued Thursday afternoon, the facility reaffirmed its commitment to staying open, as the facility meets all of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

Postal workers are now wearing face masks and gloves. Plastic shields have been installed at facilities where employees interact with the public. Staff are also being provided with hand sanitizer and various personal protective equipment.

Rupert said USPS and city/county officials are continuing talks about the order, with the spokesman adding that USPS is doing its best to be “good neighbors.”

Rupert noted that although USPS is a federal entity, it doesn’t receive federal funds, staying self-sufficient through sales of stamps and other items in its facilities.

“We’re an essential service,” he said. “It’s in the United States Constitution that the post office is essential. We’re delivering stimulus checks, medication, election materials. We’re helping keep America safe and that’s why we need to stay open.”

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Rancher Videos 2,600 Sheep Crossing Bridge By Drone

in Agriculture/News/Transportation
4614

2600 sheep crossing Ten Sleep Creek, but don't try to count them…you're liable to fall asleep. No sound…double-time.

Posted by Don Anderson on Saturday, May 2, 2020

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Our friends over at the radio station 95.5 My Country, spotted something pretty interesting the other day: an aerial view of 2,600 sheep crossing a river in Wyoming.

Seems like a rancher up in Ten Sleep got the idea to launch a drone above a bridge over Ten Sleep Creek and then began moving the sheep across the bridge.

What’s it like? It’s popular. Don Anderson said the video has been viewed more than 10,000 times now.

We think it looks a little like driving down to Denver International Airport on I-25.  It starts off at a good pace. Someone gets confused or drives slowly in the passing lane (which should be a felony) and all of a sudden, there’s mass confusion followed by a pileup.

Thanks to sheepdogs (and they are amazing to watch in this video) and a few cowboys, the traffic gets going again.

The Colorado Highway Patrol could learn something from this video.  Enjoy!

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C.J. Box Says “Big Sky” Series Still On Track For Fall ABC Debut

in arts and culture/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The coronavirus pandemic has put a hold on a number of movies and TV shows, but C.J. Box’s “The Big Sky” isn’t one of them.

Box announced the development Friday on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, posting a link to a Deadline story that showed “The Big Sky” would get a full first season commitment, when it was originally commissioned just for a pilot episode.

“Still on track for this fall on ABC…,” Box wrote in his Facebook post.

The show is being created by legendary TV writer and producer David E. Kelley, who has also created shows such as “Big Little Lies,” “Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal” and “Mr. Mercedes.” Kelley will write multiple episodes and serve as the showrunner for the first season.

The show will focus on private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt, who team up with Cody’s estranged wife, Jenny, to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote road in Montana. The detectives soon find out those aren’t the only girls who have disappeared, racing against time to stop the killer.

The cast will inculde Kylie Bunbury as Cassie Dewell, Katheryn Winnick as Jenny Hoyt and Ryan Phillippe as Cody Hoyt.

“(The television series will) be dark and scary,” Box said in an interview February. “A lot of people who have read it say it is one of the creepiest things they’ve ever read. The pilot I read scared me, even though I knew what was going to happen.”

Box will act as an executive producer on the series, as well.

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Overall Wyoming Population Grows After Three Years Of Decline

in News/Wyoming
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming saw a slight increase of 0.2% in its population in 2019, a first after three straight years of decline.

The United States Census Bureau, in a release Thursday about July 1, 2019 population estimates, said Wyoming’s population grew by 1,158 people in the year ending July 1 to total 578,759.

As of July 2019, Cheyenne was still the state’s largest city, boasting a population of 64,235. Casper followed with a population of 57,931. Laramie was the third most-populated city in the state, with 32,711.

Casper barely beat out Cheyenne for the largest population change between July 2018 and July 2019, with the former adding 416 new residents and the latter only getting 400. This was the first increase in Casper’s population after years of decline.

Bar Nunn, in Natrona County, saw the fastest annual growth in one year, around 2.7% for a total of 2,812. The other cities that saw population increases included Sheridan, Jackson and Douglas.

Rock Springs, with a population of 22,653, saw the largest decline in population, losing 274 residents over the 12-month period. Thermopolis, Wheatland and Green River also saw population declines.

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Evanston Child Positive For COVID-19 – Related Testing Yields 53 Negatives

in Coronavirus/News
4626

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EVANSTON — Following the confirmation of a COVID-19 infection in a child enrolled at the Evanston Child Development Center, a second point prevalence survey mass testing event was conducted at Evanston Community Health Center for ECDC on Tuesday, May 19.

Results from that testing were available on Wednesday afternoon and all 53 people tested were negative for the presence of the novel coronavirus.

A press release from Uinta County Public Health said the survey was recommended by the Wyoming Department of Health due to the high potential impact of a positive case in a child who had been attending a childcare facility and was targeted toward individuals who may have been in contact with the child.

Evanston Community Health Center volunteered time, staff and personal protective equipment to take samples from the dozens of children and adults in a drive-thru setting over two hours on Tuesday.

In an effort to expedite testing and results, the Wyoming State Fire Marshall’s Office volunteered to transport the samples directly to the Wyoming Public Health Lab in Cheyenne, which allowed for results to be returned in approximately 24 hours.

Uinta County Public Health staff said the results are very encouraging for the community and are very good news for the families of children attending ECDC, along with the center’s staff.

“This is a good sign, especially after the worry of not knowing the source for the infection in the positive case,” reads a release from public health. “The families involved were also incredibly patient and kind as they dealt with uncertainty and frightening prospects.”

Another case was confirmed in Uinta County on Thursday morning, unrelated to the child case. The new case is in an adult female residing in Evanston, who is said to be isolated and recovering at home. As with the last case, there is no known source for this infection.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Wyoming Department of Health website stated Uinta County has had nine confirmed and three probable cases, with seven of the confirmed and two of the probable listed as recovered.

Statewide, the WDH says there have been 596 confirmed cases with 191 probable for a total of 787 cases.

Of those 787, 534 are listed as officially recovered, which means at least 10 days have elapsed since the onset of symptoms and the infected individual has had no fever and improving symptoms for at least three days.

There have been 11 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Wyoming residents.

More than 18,000 tests have been conducted in the state, for a current positive test rate of about 3.3%, which is well below the current national average of approximately 10%. Uinta County’s positive test rate is listed on the WDH website as about 1%.

As the amount of testing increases, declining percentages of positive tests is one of the metrics utilized to determine whether it is safe to ease restrictions on businesses and individual activity.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said there were currently nine individuals hospitalized throughout the state.

During that conference, Wyoming State Public Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist emphasized officials continue to be concerned about high-risk individuals living in long-term care facilities around the state. Harrist said due to that concern the state is launching a proactive testing program of those individuals.

Harrist said there are two parts to that program. The first is that facilities without a confirmed outbreak are being asked to test at least 20% of residents and staff every two weeks for monitoring purposes and to ensure early signs of a potential outbreak aren’t being missed.

The second part of the program involves facilities that have had confirmed cases, which will be asked to test all residents and staff weekly until officials are sure the outbreak has been controlled. Harrist said state public health offices will work with facilities to help facilitate and orchestrate the testing.

Gordon also addressed the challenges facing schools throughout the state, from the University of Wyoming and community colleges to K-12 schools and preschools, as they already begin to prepare for the next school year, noting those challenges are “extraordinary.”

He said folks statewide are already working every day to address the huge amount of work that will likely be required to get students back in buildings in the fall.

Gordon spoke of the looming challenges facing the state and the Wyoming Legislature to deal with the revenue losses related to the pandemic and what that will mean for the overall state budget, acknowledging the stark realities ahead.

The Legislature just wrapped up a two-day special session to delineate how the state will handle the $1.25 billion dollars received through the federal CARES Act.

Gordon signed three bills on Wednesday to cover many aspects of the pandemic, including costs related to testing and contact tracing, personal protective equipment, assistance to renters and landlords, workers’ compensation claims and more.

The Legislature also established three grant programs to help Wyoming small businesses, which will be handled by the Wyoming Business Council (WBC).

There are different grant programs designed to help businesses based on factors like the number of employees, whether a business was under closure orders, whether COVID-19 related expenses were incurred and more.

The WBC is working to get the programs up and running and accepting applications as soon as possible and plans to announce informational webinars in the coming days.

In the meantime, business owners are encouraged to get documents together, including W-9 forms and certificates of good standing, in preparation to file for some of the $325 million allocated for small business assistance.

There is also assistance available through the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security for businesses needing to acquire personal protective equipment required due to the public safety orders. Gordon said businesses can submit requests for assistance on the Wyoming DHS website at hls.wyo.gov.

Gordon again asked for continued cooperation with social distancing guidelines and recommendations for wearing cloth face coverings in public places, while also acknowledging the difficulties for businesses at the present time.

“I know that it is difficult to try to run a business at 50% capacity,” he said. “I want to thank the people of Wyoming for continuing to do the right thing, for your patience. … We are where we are today, and proudly so, because of what you were able to do exercising restraint, exercising responsibility and understanding that delicate balance between right and responsibility.

“The threat of COVID-19 has not gone, but with common sense precautions we will continue to make progress,” Gordon continued. “We’re way ahead of our peers and I’m excited about that. Our journey back won’t always be simple and easy, but here in Wyoming we are not scared of work. We know the value of community. We know the value of responsibility, of family, of common sense, and most especially, of faith. … I have faith that our state will continue, that our economy will improve, and that through the efforts of our people, we will continue to strengthen and that our great country will once again be able to do everything that we’ve wanted to do.”

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Denver Postal Center That Handles All Wyoming Mail Ordered Closed Due to Covid-19

in Coronavirus/News
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UPDATE: The Postal Service on Friday told Cowboy State Daily they will not close their facility despite orders from the city and county of Denver.


The United States Postal Service distribution center that handles the mail for all of Wyoming was told to shut down by the City and County of Denver on Thursday due to coronavirus concerns.

According to a United States Postal Service tweet, however, the facility will remain open despite the order.

“The Denver Distribution Center remains open as we sort 10 million pieces of mail a day for every person in CO and WY including medications, stimulus checks, and election materials. We are meeting all CDC and federal guidelines for COVID-19.  USPS is an Essential Service,” the tweet reads.

According to a letter from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, the state of Colorado has confirmed multiple cases of Covid-19 among the employees who work at the distribution center.

The United States Postal Service is protesting the closure stating that the mail service is an “essential service.”

James Boxrud, a spokesman for the USPS said the potential closure could impact citizens of Wyoming.

“This closure notice … has the potential to impact stimulus checks, prescription medications, personal correspondence, and vital goods delivered to the more than 6.5 million customers who live in Colorado and Wyoming,” he said.

Boxrud said the USPS has provided Denver Public Health “the necessary documentation to satisfy their inquiry and are confident the order will be rescinded.”

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After 50 Days in Hospital, Fremont County Man Discharged After Beating Covid-19

in Coronavirus/News
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It’s always inspiring to see the people who have recovered from Covid-19 finally make it out of the hospital.

A month ago, two patients recovering from the virus were wheeled out of the Cheyenne Medical Center with more than 100 employees cheering them on.

Today, it was Dennis Hurst’s turn. 

Hurst was one of the first people diagnosed with the coronavirus who was hospitalized at the Sage West Health Care center in Lander.

Today, 50 days after being checked-in to the hospital, Hurst was discharged.

And just like the reception in Cheyenne, employees of the hospital lined the hallways to celebrate his discharge.

Hurst triumphantly carried a sign that said “Crushed Covid-19”.

Congratulations Dennis!

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Elderly Washakie County Man Becomes Wyoming’s 12th Coronavirus Death

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

An older Washakie County resident has died after becoming infected with coronavirus, the Wyoming Department of Health reported Thursday.

The man is the 12th person to die in Wyoming as a result of the illness.The department said the man was a resident of a Washakie County long-term care facility who had earlier tested positive for the virus.

The facility had been identified earlier as being hit by a coronavirus outbreak. Testing has identified five cases among staff and six among the facility’s residents.

No further information on the death was immediately available.

In addition to the 12 reported deaths, 608 lab-confirmed cases, and 193 probable cases have been reported so far among Wyoming residents.

COVID-19 can be transmitted by infected people who don’t yet have symptoms. Disease symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after virus exposure and include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

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260+ Staff, Residents From Natrona County Health Facility To Be Quarantined

in Coronavirus/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than 260 residents and staff from a Natrona County long-term care facility will have to be quarantined due to a coronavirus exposure this week.

The Casper-Natrona County Health Department was notified of an additional positive coronavirus case late Wednesday night.

Through contact tracing, the new case was identified as a person living at a long-term care facility in Natrona County.

The source of the resident’s exposure is currently unknown.

On Thursday, Natrona County health experts and Wyoming Department of Health officials notified the facility.

Due to the communal and high-risk setting, all staff and residents identified as being associated with the facility will be tested as soon as possible.

The majority of the people will be tested on Thursday. In total, around 265 staff and residents will be tested and quarantined.

Due to the large number of staff required to quarantine, individuals who are asymptomatic but awaiting test results will be allowed to work only with appropriate personal protective equipment to ensure resident safety.

Following the return of the Thursday test results, the health department will follow up with anyone who might need additional testing.

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