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Coronavirus

Gordon, Wyoming Biz Council Use CARES Funds To Expand Broadband

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The Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors on Friday approved 37 projects totaling $86 million in federal CARES Act funding to help expand broadband infrastructure across the state.

According to a news release from Gov. Mark Gordon’s office, he and state legislators have worked to develop a broadband expansion initiative in response to the coronavirus crisis. The goal is to provide internet access in areas where there is little or no broadband so Wyomingites can access telehealth and tele-education or work remotely.

“This funding will help connect rural communities in Wyoming that may not have had the chance to get service otherwise,” Gordon said in the release. “Now, the people in Wyoming’s most rural communities will be able to access the essential services they need to cope with the effects of COVID-19, and to access the opportunities that high-speed internet provides for years to come.”

These projects will impact 15 counties and 54 communities.

A committee of WBC staff and board members, members of the state’s Broadband Advisory Council and governor’s staff members recommended applications that didn’t compete with existing providers who offer service speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload, as defined by Wyoming statute.

“The funds help communities that need it most and support projects in areas without adequate service,” Business Council Board member Erin Moore said. “This provides accessibility for our most rural communities, which is vital in these extraordinary circumstances.”

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Record 67 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming; 514 Active

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Editor’s Note: This is a map of the active coronavirus cases in each county across Wyoming. The number of active cases is determined by subtracting the total number of recoveries seen since the illness first reached Wyoming in mid-March from the total number of confirmed and probable cases diagnosed during the same time period and taking into account deaths related to the disease.

A record 67 new laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in the state Friday, pushing the number of active cases in the state back over 500.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said 14 counties reported new cases Friday, driving the number of active cases up by 24 to total 514.

The increase in active cases came despite the growth of 40 in the number of people to recover from either laboratory-confirmed or probable coronavirus cases since the illness was first detected in Wyoming in mid-March.

 As of Friday, Fremont County had 95 active cases; Carbon County had 68; Laramie County had 67; Washakie had 42; Park had 39; Campbell had 33; Teton had 31; Albany had 28; Natrona had 22; Goshen had 21; Sweetwater and Uinta had 19; Sheridan had 15; Lincoln had six; Hot Springs and Johnson had three, and Crook, Platte and Sublette counties had one.

Big Horn, Converse, Niobrara and Weston counties had no active cases.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The active cases involved 444 people with laboratory-confirmed cases and 70 people with probable cases.

Probable cases are defined as those where a patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness. The number of probable cases seen in Wyoming since the pandemic began was reduced by three on Friday to total 489.

The increase in the number of laboratory-confirmed cases brought the number of those cases seen in Wyoming since mid-March to 2,694.

Recoveries seen since mid-March, meanwhile, increased by 40 on Friday to bring the total recoveries to 2,641, including 2,222 among people with confirmed cases of coronavirus and 419 people with probable cases.

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University Of Wyoming To Do Phased Reopening For Fall Semester

in Coronavirus/News/University of Wyoming
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Instead of convening for in-person classes on Aug. 24, the University of Wyoming will instead conduct a phased reopening plan for the fall semester.

Classes will begin as planned on Aug. 24, but they will all be held virtually for the first few weeks of the semester, and the student population in Laramie will be capped for the time being. By mid-September, some classes will go back to in-person instruction and more students will be allowed on campus, according to a release shared by the university.

In late September, all students will be allowed back on campus for in-person instruction for eight weeks of courses. After Thanksgiving break, classes will again switch back to online instruction.

“We understand that this is a significant change for our students and families, complicating decisions regarding travel and other issues,” President Ed Seidel said in the release. “However, this approach greatly increases the likelihood of our students having an opportunity for an on-campus experience in the safest manner possible, and avoiding an outbreak during the semester that would cause an even bigger disruption.”

All UW students and employees are being required to take free coronavirus saliva tests before returning to campus.

The university also is working to develop a comprehensive surveillance testing program that will involve employees and students on campus being tested twice a week during the semester. That program isn’t expected to be fully operational until Sept. 28, one of the reasons the semester will start Aug. 24 with all courses online.

Random-sample testing will take place Aug. 24 through Sept. 25 for students and employees who are on campus.

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Wyoming Launches Coronavirus Exposure App

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has launched a COVID-19 exposure notification app that will alert users if they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gov. Mark Gordon announced the availability of the Care19 Alert app Friday in a news release.

Wyoming is one of the first states in the country to launch a COVID-19 app that doesn’t rely on personal information or location data. Users opt in to download and use the free app.

“The Care19 Alert notification app provides Wyoming with another tool to fight COVID-19 while protecting your personal privacy,” Gordon said in the release. “The more Wyomingites who choose to download and use this app, the more successful we can be in protecting lives and slowing the spread of the virus.”

Care19 Alert works by using random Bluetooth keys that change every 10 to 20 minutes. iOS and Android devices that have the app installed will anonymously share these random keys if they are within close proximity for at least 15 minutes.

Each day, the device downloads a list of all random keys associated with positive COVID-19 results submitted by other app users and checks them against the list of random keys it has encountered in the last 14 days.

If there is a match, Care19 Alert may notify the individual, taking into account the date and duration of exposure and the Bluetooth signal strength which is used to estimate proximity.

Other countries, including Ireland and Germany, have successfully used this technology in similar apps.

The free app is available to download through the App Store and the Google Play Store. Care19 Alert is the only app in Wyoming allowed to use the exposure notifications system (ENS) application programming interface (API) jointly created by Apple and Google.

By using Care19 Alert in conjunction with the original Care19 app, Care19 Diary, residents can maximize the number of people who can be notified of exposure. Both apps maintain users’ privacy and work seamlessly to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by providing timely notifications to a broad range of users in an efficient and secure manner.

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490 Active Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming As Of Thursday

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Editor’s Note: This is a map of the active coronavirus cases in each county across Wyoming. The number of active cases is determined by subtracting the total number of recoveries seen since the illness first reached Wyoming in mid-March from the total number of confirmed and probable cases diagnosed during the same time period and taking into account deaths related to the disease.

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming grew by eight on Thursday as 13 counties reported new laboratory-confirmed cases of the illness.

Wyoming Department of Health figures in its daily coronavirus update showed the state had 490 active coronavirus cases on Thursday, compared to 482 on Wednesday.

The increase from Wednesday’s total was caused by an increase of 27 in laboratory-confirmed cases and six in probable cases.

As of Thursday, Fremont County had 80 active cases; Laramie County had 75; Carbon had 69 cases; Park had 43; Washakie had 32; Albany and Campbell had 27; Uinta had 26; Teton had 25; Goshen had 20; Natrona had 19; Sweetwater had 17; Sheridan had 12; Lincoln had seven; Hot Springs had four; Johnson had three; Converse had two, and Platte and Sublette counties had one case.

Big Horn, Crook, Niobrara and Weston counties had no active cases.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The total number of laboratory-confirmed cases reported in the state since the virus was first detected in Wyoming in March totaled 2,627 on Thursday, while the number of probable cases reported during the same time was set at 492.

New confirmed cases were reported in Albany, Campbell, Converse, Goshen, Johnson, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Platte, Sweetwater, Teton and Washakie counties. Campbell County saw the largest increase with six new confirmed cases.

Of the total of 3,119 people infected with the virus since March, 2,601 have recovered, an increase of 24 since Wednesday. The recoveries included 2,187 among those with laboratory-confirmed cases and 414 among those with probable cases.

A probable case is one where a patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the disease.

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Big Horn County Man Becomes Wyoming’s 30th Coronavirus Death

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Big Horn County man has been listed as the 30th person in Wyoming to die from the coronavirus, the Wyoming Department of Health announced Thursday.

The man previously tested positive for the virus. He was an older adult who had health conditions recognized as putting patients at higher risk of serious illness related to the coronavirus.

He’d been hospitalized in another state.

Among Wyoming residents, there have now been 30 coronavirus-related deaths, 2,627 lab-confirmed cases and 492 probable cases reported.

Deaths among Wyoming residents are added to the state’s coronavirus-related death total based on official death certificate information and residency.

If the disease did not cause or contribute to the person’s death, that person’s death is not reflected in Wyoming’s count of coronavirus-related deaths even if the person is known to be positive for the virus.

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Wyoming Ranks 47th In Unemployment Recovery; Unemployment Claims Up By 900% In One year

in Coronavirus/News/Unemployment
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment claims have increased by more than 900% in just one year, according to a recent study.

The state ranked 47th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia when it came to how employment has recovered since the beginning of the coronavirus panademic. These findings came from personal finance website WalletHub.

Wyoming unemployment claims have increased 229.76% since the beginning of the year and 923% since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to March through August 2019.

Wyoming also was also ranked the 50th lowest state for employment recovery in the last week compared to the same time last year.

New Jersey ranked No. 1 for recoveries in the last week, but it was Connecticut that had recovered the most since the start of the pandemic.

George ranked dead last, both in terms of how quickly unemployment claims have recovered in the last week and since the beginning of the pandemic.

The coronavirus has wiped out all of the job gains since the great recession a decade ago. There were around 1 million jobless claims the first week of August.

Blue states’ unemployment claims also seem to be recovering faster than red states.

A University of Minnesota assistant professor attributed much of the employment recovery seen in the nation as stemming from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act approved by Congress.

“The CARES Act is a remarkable piece of legislation. In a matter of days, this deeply divided Senate unanimously passed $2 trillion in spending,” University of Minnesota professor Alan Benson told the website. “The bill itself was really less of a shot and more of a shotgun. Rather than focusing on any one piece of the labor market, the CARES Act provided incentives for businesses to keep people employed, expanded unemployment insurance payments and coverage for those who lost their jobs, and direct stimulus payments to individuals below certain income thresholds. These responses had a double purpose: both as a personal lifeline and as a way to stimulate consumers.”

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482 Active Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming As Recoveries Continue To Climb

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Editor’s Note: This is a map of the active coronavirus cases in each county across Wyoming. The number of active cases is determined by subtracting the total number of recoveries seen since the illness first reached Wyoming in mid-March from the total number of confirmed and probable cases diagnosed during the same time period and taking into account deaths related to the disease.

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total fell to 482 on Wednesday as the number of people to recover from the virus increased by more than double the number of new cases reported.

The Wyoming Department of Health’s daily coronavirus update figures showed the number of active cases in the state fell by 23 Wednesday when the number of people reported as recovered grew by 36 and the number of new confirmed cases totaled 16.

Fremont County had the highest number of active cases at 81; Laramie County had 76; Carbon County had 69; Park County had 40; Washakie had 29; Uinta had 28; Teton had 27; Albany had 26; Campbell had 20; Goshen had 19; Sweetwater had 18; Natrona and Sheridan had 17; Lincoln had six; Hot Springs had four; Johnson had two, and Big Horn, Converse and Sublette had one. Crook, Niobrara, Platte and Weston had no active cases.

Active cases went down in 13 counties: Albany, Big Horn, Converse, Fremont, Goshen, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Sublette, Sweetwater, Uinta and Washakie.

Laboratory-confirmed cases made up 409 of the active cases, while those with probable cases made up 73 of the cases.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The number of people to recover from coronavirus since March totaled 2,577 on Wednesday, including 2,164 people with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus and 413 with probable cases.

A probable case is defined as one where the patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the disease.

The number of new confirmed cases went up by 16 on Wednesday to total 2,600, with increases reported in Campbell, Carbon, Fremont, Laramie, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton and Washakie counties.

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Wyoming School Districts Have Option For Surveillance Coronavirus Testing

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s school districts will have the option to have their teachers surveillance tested, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said Wednesday.

During a news conference alongside Gov. Mark Gordon and state public health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, Balow discussed updates regarding the reopening of schools later this month.

Gordon announced that school districts that choose to do so can conduct “surveillance testing,” a technique in which random teachers and staff will be tested for coronavirus on a rotating basis. Balow noted the details of the testing have not yet been finalized and more information will be coming soon.

She said the department released information about testing to the districts so everyone could begin planning ahead, but added she couldn’t share more.

Harrist said during a previous news conference that she expected coronavirus cases to pop up in schools as they reopen, although she clarified Wednesday that she doesn’t necessarily expect an outbreak.

All of the state’s school districts have submitted reopening plans to the WDE and more than half have been approved. Balow hoped the rest would be completed by the end of the week.

All of the district have three-tier plans for reopening, and most are slated to open their doors to students for some type of in-person instruction later this month.

Balow reminded that students, staff and faculty will have be distanced or wear masks in instances when they can’t be more than 6 feet apart.

She also thanked the Wyoming High School Activities Association for the work it has done to ensure student athletes’ safety with sports restarting week.

“We’re in a good place, but certainly there will be course corrections,” she said.

Balow noted many school districts in the state are offering some type of hybrid virtual learning options, in the case of parents and families who don’t feel comfortable sending students to in-person classes.

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Gordon Allows Bigger Size For Outdoor Gatherings, Indoors Still Limited

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Updated state public health orders will allow more people to gather at outdoor events beginning Aug. 16, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Wednesday.

A news release from Gordon’s office said outdoor venues will be allowed to seat 50% of their capacity up to a maximum of 1,000 people allowed. Social distancing and increased sanitization measures must be in place.

Attendance at indoor gatherings in confined spaces remains limited to 50 people without restrictions, 250 if social distancing and sanitzation measures are incorporated.

“We are seeing promising trends but we want to continue to exercise caution as schools around the state prepare for reopening,” Gordon said in the release. “We have seen outdoor events occur safely this summer and we want to ensure that schools are able to host spectators for their outdoor activities this fall.”

The public health restrictions that apply to restaurants, bars, gyms and performance spaces will remain in place through Aug. 31.

Faith-based gatherings such as church services and funerals will continue to be permitted to operate without restrictions, with appropriate social distancing encouraged.

Over the past 14 days, Wyoming has averaged 30 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day, with 412 new cases confirmed since July 29. From July 12 through 26, Wyoming averaged 37 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day with 523 lab-confirmed cases reported.

The Wyoming Department of Health and Gordon continue to recommend the use of face coverings in public settings where it is not possible or reasonable to stay physically apart. On Wyoming’s COVID-19 dashboard the categories of number of new cases and new hospitalizations continue to be rated “concerning.”

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