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168 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Friday; 394 Recoveries; 2,108 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus decreased by 159 to end the week Friday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 394 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 168 new laboratory-confirmed and 67 new probable cases, leaving it with 2,108 active cases as of Friday.

Eight counties had more than 100 active cases, with having more than 300. Laramie County had 445; Natrona 396; Uinta 157; Albany 126; Sweetwater 114; Campbell 112; Fremont 111; Park 71; Johnson and Teton 54; Goshen 51; Lincoln 45; Carbon and Platte 41; Crook 33; Sublette 31; Converse and Niobrara 27; Big Horn and Washakie 21; Weston had 17, while Hot Springs reported five 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, 2020, 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 new confirmed and probable cases brought to 109,318 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 105,863 have recovered.

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Campbell County Commissioners Reject Public Health Covid Education Campaign

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By RJ Morgan, County 17

Following a lengthy discussion on Tuesday, the Campbell County Commissioners denied Campbell County Public Health’s (CCPH) request to move forward with a no-cost COVID-19 vaccine education plan.

The plan, if it had been approved, would have sought to further educate the community about the COVID-19 vaccines and would have been funded with leftover funds awarded to Campbell County through a federal COVID-19 education grant, of which $329,000 remains, according to CCPH Director Jane Glaser who addressed the commissioners during their regular meeting Nov. 17.

But with all but two commissioners, Rusty Bell and DG Reardon, voting against the measure, that money now goes away to be redistributed to another Wyoming community.

Before casting her vote against the education contracts, Commissioner Colleen Faber said enough is enough, there is already enough education going around, and that the Wyoming Department of Health already does enough.

“I hear the ads all day long,” Faber said. “I think we have the education. Let some of this money go back to the taxpayers who paid it in, maybe we won’t have so much to pay next time. We always have that dream.”

Bell, however, felt that sending the money back to be used by another community takes away an opportunity that could have benefited both Gillette and Campbell County.

“That money could help one of our local businesses pay their employees or even give a Christmas bonus during these tough times, so by sending it back is just going to inject money into another community’s economy. Why not be our community instead of Cheyenne,” Bell said prior to the vote.

Additional education is needed and is not a bad idea, Reardon added, pointing out that the vaccination rate in Campbell County continues to be the second-lowest in the state with only 25.48 percent of the entire considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Nov. 16.

“To Commissioner Faber’s point, I don’t agree that we are at the point of saturation. I think the point of saturation is a rate at 90 percent plus,” Reardon said. “It is a choice, a personal choice people have to make if someone wants the vaccine. I don’t think it hurts to educate people.”

Glaser said her department’s plan would have utilized Sylvestri Customization, which is already working with Public Health on suicide and substance abuse prevention campaigns, to handle social media-related COVID-19 education initiatives across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok, and Google Display Ads.

Additionally, OC Equity, LLC, would have managed the larger campaign using local businesses to produce and distribute educational and promotional materials and convey information on the vaccines and COVID-19 from local physicians and professionals who Campbell County citizens would recognize.

According to OC Equity, LLC spokesman Mark Christensen, the funds to be approved and the budget developed for the grant allocated funds to more than a dozen local businesses.

Shelstad, however, took issue with the campaign’s wording, which he interpreted to say that residents needed to be vaccinated, rather than stating they have the right to choose.

“I’ll be the bad guy,” he said. “Reading through the agreement doesn’t really specifically explain what the educational piece or what the ad campaign component is. I’ve told you this before, I’ve got a real problem with campaigning for vaccination that doesn’t include telling people they have their own right to make their own choice. To be part of approving something that goes to a campaign that says you need to be vaccinated, I just don’t agree with that.”

Glaser said Shelstad’s assumption was incorrect.

“The campaign is going to be very neutral,” she said. “It’s going to provide information, provide where they can get the vaccination to educate people. At no point will there ever be in any of these campaigns any information given out that says you must or have to (get the vaccine). “

Glaser said it’s only about what the vaccines could do, where they are available, or who to call if you have questions or concerns.

“We are not going to go down the avenue of incentives because there’s a lot of restrictions on incentives. I know a lot of states are doing that. We are not in the business of mandating anybody to do anything but we do want to get the correct information out so people can make their own personal decisions.” Glaser said.

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336 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Thursday; 479 Recoveries; 2,267 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total decreased by 54 on Thursday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 479 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases Thursday. 

At the same time, the state reported 336 new laboratory-confirmed and 89 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,267 active cases for Thursday.

Eight counties have more than 100 active cases, with two having more than 400. 

Laramie County had 470; Natrona 427; Uinta 151; Sweetwater 128; Albany 127; Fremont Campbell 114; Sheridan 108; Park 71; Goshen 60; Johnson 57; Teton 56; Niobrara 52; Carbon and Lincoln 50; Sublette 42; Crook and Platte 38; Converse and Washakie 31; Big Horn 23; Weston had 21, while Hot Springs reported five 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, 2020, 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 new confirmed and probable cases brought to 109,083 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 105,469  have recovered.

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More Than 2,300 Children In Wyoming Have Received COVID Vaccine

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than 2,300 children in Wyoming have received the Pfizer COVID vaccine since it became available, according to numbers released by the Wyoming Department of Health.

According to the department, 2,345 pediatric doses of the vaccine have been administered. Spokeswoman Kim Deti explained that the pediatric doses are specifically for children ages 5 to 11.

“There is a specific Pfizer formulation for that age group,” she told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

According to the Washington Post, nearly 10% of children ages 5 to 11 have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose, just two weeks into the immunization campaign for children. The vaccine for children under 12 became available earlier this month.

Around 41% of the entire population of Wyoming has been vaccinated against the virus, leading the state to be identified as one of the most vaccine-hesitant in the nation.

Natrona County health officer Dr. Mark Dowell previously told Cowboy State Daily that the vaccine has become politicized, leading to the hesitancy seen across the state.

“When nearly 5 billion people have had this vaccine and people are saying it’s not safe, it’s as if the public is suddenly become scientists and I just don’t know where that comes from,” Dowell said.

Just under 29% of adolescents between 12 to 17 have been vaccinated, while 50.1% of Wyoming adults have received a dose of the vaccine.

Almost 72% of Wyoming’s seniors have been vaccinated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the symptoms of COVID tend to be milder in children than in adults, the illness can still make children very sick and cause children to be hospitalized. In some situations, the complications from infection can lead to death.

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134 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Wednesday; 26 Recoveries; 2,321 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by 219 on Wednesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 26 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases Wednesday. 

At the same time, the state reported 134 new laboratory-confirmed and 111 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,321 active cases for Wednesday.

Seven counties have more than 100 active cases, with two having more than 400. Laramie County had 479; Natrona 451; Uinta 160; Albany 148; Fremont 127; Campbell 122; Sweetwater 120; Sheridan 92; Park 67; Goshen, Lincoln and Sublette 56; Johnson and Teton 55; Carbon 47; Platte 38; Niobrara 37; Converse 34; Big Horn 32; Washakie 31; Crook 30; Weston had 23, while Hot Springs reported five 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, 2020, 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 new confirmed and probable cases brought to 108,658 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 104,990  have recovered.

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193 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Tuesday; 309 Recoveries; 2,102 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total decreased by 48 on Tuesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports Tuesday of 309 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 193 new laboratory-confirmed and 117 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,102 active cases for Tuesday.

Seven counties have more than 100 active cases, with two having more than 400. Laramie County had 415; Natrona 410; Uinta 153; Albany and Fremont 128; Campbell 118; Sweetwater 112; Sheridan 84; Park 61; Sublette 56; Lincoln 52; Teton 48; Goshen 47; Johnson 46; Carbon and Niobrara 36; Platte 33; Big Horn 31; Washakie 29; Converse and Crook 27; Weston had 21, while Hot Springs reported four 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, 2020, 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 new confirmed and probable cases brought to 108,413 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 104,964  have recovered.

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Wyoming Health Department Reports Another 49 Deaths Linked To COVID

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of Wyoming residents whose deaths have been connected to COVID-19 climbed to 1,347 as of Tuesday.

The Wyoming Department of Health said the deaths of 49 more Wyoming residents that occurred in October and November were linked to the illness.

The deaths included 10 Park County residents, six men and four women, and six Goshen County residents, three men and three women.

Six Natrona County residents, four men and two women, were also among the victims, as were four Laramie County residents, three men and one woman.

Other victims included four Campbell County men, two Carbon County men and one woman; two Fremont County women and one man, a Hot Springs County man, three Sheridan County men, a Sublette County woman, two Sweetwater County women and one man, a Uinta County woman, and two Weston County women and one man.

The deaths were announced as Department of Health figures showed the number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming fell by 48 on Tuesday to total 2,102.

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Cody Healthcare Workers Protest Vaccine Mandate

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By Kevin Killough, Powell Tribune

More than 50 people — most of them healthcare workers — protested Wednesday morning outside Cody Regional Health over a federal vaccine mandate that threatens the employment of unvaccinated healthcare workers across the country.

“It’s not about being vaccinated and unvaccinated. It’s about the loss of freedom and medical choice,” said Ken Lee, a Cody nurse.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that employees of healthcare providers will be required to have their first COVID vaccination shot by Dec. 5, and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, in order for the providers to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

CMS estimates this mandate will apply to approximately 76,000 providers and healthcare facilities and impact over 17 million healthcare employees across the U.S. 

However, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Wednesday that Wyoming is joining with nine other states to challenge the CMS rule; Gordon’s administration previously challenged mandates relating to federal contractors and employees and to businesses with more than 100 employees.

“Wyoming continues to face a significant shortage of healthcare workers and this federal mandate will only exacerbate our healthcare staffing issues,” Gordon said in a statement. 

“This administration needs to understand that overreaching policies that force employees to choose between vaccination and termination negatively impacts Wyoming communities, rural healthcare, and residents of skilled nursing facilities.”

Jab or Job

Powell Valley Healthcare and Cody Regional Health began notifying employees last week that they would need to be fully vaccinated by the deadline to continue their employment. 

PVHC CEO Terry Odom said the hospital is initiating a process to review staff members who hold a medical or religious exemption to the mandate and will begin evaluating those employees who claim those exemptions.

“We anticipate being able to retain staff through this process,” Odom said in a statement. 

She said that 42% of the hospital’s staff is vaccinated, adding that the organization continues to hold weekly vaccine clinics and provides educational resources to encourage staff to get vaccinated.

Jason Jackson, who said he’s a healthcare worker but declined to name his employer, was among the crowd protesting in Cody Wednesday. Jackson said he will be unemployed in December due to the mandate, unless a request for a religious exemption is approved. He’s concerned how the mandate will exacerbate staffing shortages in rural healthcare. 

“We’ve already seen where patients are being turned away from facilities because there’s not enough staff to take care of them,” Jackson said.

Hospitals have also been strained by the number of people seriously ill with COVID-19 and have a hard time finding beds available in other states for patients needing more intense care, Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin, who works at PVHC, has said.

Odom said staffing shortages continue to stress PVHC’s resources, but they have not had to reduce or change services at any of the facilities on its campus, which includes The Heartland and the Powell Valley Care Center.

To supplement its regular staff, the hospital has added nine traveling staff at the care center and will add another four soon. These are employees from other providers that work temporarily at PVHC. 

Odom said the Wellness Lab Clinic closed due to a national shortage of supplies.

“We will reopen as soon as supplies become available,” she said. 

Cody Regional Health also released a statement on the situation, saying Medicare and Medicaid programs account for 70% of the hospital’s reimbursement. 

Cody Regional Health

“CRH could not sustain our current services or operate without Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement,” said Doug McMillan, Cody Regional Health CEO. CRH is also establishing a process to evaluate employees who request an exemption and said the requests would be evaluated according to federal guidelines. 

R.J. Kost, a state lawmaker who serves on the PVHC Board of Trustees, said nearly 70% of PVHC’s funding comes from the two federal programs managed by CMS. 

Kost said he opposes the mandate and thinks there’s better means by which to encourage people to take care of their health, but he said the hospital’s “hands are tied.” 

“I think the overreaching of the federal government is extreme,” Kost said, but “if we lose that funding, we lose our hospital.”

Last Year’s Heroes

The protesters in Cody Wednesday didn’t express animosity toward their employers. Most recognized they were just carrying out what the federal government is forcing them to do. 

“We’re not against Doug [McMillan] or the board,” said Lee, the Cody nurse. 

Some of the protesters were concerned about the safety of the vaccine, but most were objecting to what they believe is a violation of their rights. 

Karinthia Herweyer, a registered nurse who has worked in healthcare for over 12 years, said she believes the mandate is unconstitutional. Herweyer said she was especially upset over how it’s treating those working in the healthcare industry after they were so instrumental in caring for the sick during the pandemic. 

“Last year’s heroes may very well be this year’s unemployed,” Herweyer said in an email ahead of the protest. 

Many of the other protesters expressed a moral objection to the way in which the mandate is forcing people to accept a medical procedure they don’t want.

“My biggest thing is medical ethics 101. A patient has the right to refuse treatment, even if it’s good for them. This mandate takes away that right. Everyone on this planet is a patient at some point,” said Linda Hordichok, who said she works in affiliated healthcare outside direct patient care.

Bonnie and Tim Newton, who own Alpine Medical, which has locations in Powell and Cody, said they are not currently impacted by the mandates. However, if the rules are allowed to stand, the Newtons fear they will eventually trickle down to smaller businesses such as their own. They said they were at the protest to stand up for their rights and support unvaccinated healthcare workers who could be losing their jobs.

“We need to take a stand for those people who will lose their jobs,” said Nicole Burr, office manager at Alpine Medical. “We’re here to support them.”

Mark Anderson, a minister in Cody, said he knows people personally, including family members, who have had bad reactions to the vaccine.

“I just believe the mandate is illegal,” Anderson said, adding that, despite the adverse effects he’s seen in others, he wasn’t opposed to people choosing to get the vaccine. 

Public health officials — including those at Park County Public Health, the Wyoming Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — say the vaccines are the most effective way for people to reduce their odds of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

Studies of the vaccines’ effectiveness have found that they reduce a person’s risk of becoming severely sick by 90% or more, the CDC says.

Federal and state health officials say the risk of serious adverse reactions from the vaccines are much lower than the risk of developing serious complications from the novel coronavirus and its variants.

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413 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming; 1,002 Recoveries; 2,150 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total decreased by 382 over the weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 1,002 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases between Friday and Monday. 

At the same time, the state reported 413 new laboratory-confirmed and 207 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,150 active cases for Monday.

Seven counties had more than 100 active cases, with two having more than 400. Laramie had 426; Natrona 416; Fremont 155; Uinta 146; Albany 133; Sweetwater 130; Campbell 127; Sheridan 91; Park 62; Lincoln 51; Sublette 50; Goshen 45; Teton 42; Carbon 41; Niobrara 36; Washakie 36; Platte 32; Johnson 31; Converse 28; Crook 26; Big Horn 24; Weston had 18, while Hot Springs reported four 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, 2020, 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 new confirmed and probable cases brought to 108,103 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 104,655  have recovered.

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594 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Friday; 1,038 Recoveries, 2,532 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total decreased by 254 on Friday to end the week.

Wednesday Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 1,038 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 594 new laboratory-confirmed and 191 new probable cases between Wednesday and Friday, leaving Wyoming with 2,532 active cases for Friday.

Eight counties had more than 100 active cases, with two having more than 200. 

Laramie County had 501; Natrona 479; Fremont 190; Sweetwater 154;  Albany and Campbell 137; Uinta 131; Sheridan 121; Park 93; Goshen 60; Teton 59; Sublette 58; Lincoln 55; Johnson 52; Washakie 49; Carbon and Platte 45; Niobrara 41; Crook 36; Converse 32; Big Horn 29; Weston had 23, while Hot Springs reported five 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, 2020, 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 new confirmed and probable cases brought to 107,483 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 103,653  have recovered.

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