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Coronavirus

Gordon Reiterates Concern About Coronavirus, Criticizes Lack Of Empathy During News Conference

in Coronavirus/Mark Gordon/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon expected to have health orders aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus expire by the end of July, but then a spike in cases in mid-June made him and other state officials reconsider.

Gordon’s comments came during a Wednesday afternoon news conference, where he was joined by State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist as he addressed the issues including the current increase in coronavirus cases in the state.

Gordon noted that the state saw 24 new active cases on Wednesday and commented on the recent coronavirus-related death of a Sweetwater County man, the state’s 22nd death linked to the virus.

But the governor added he’s been receiving nasty emails from residents about the medical conditions or ages of people dying from the virus which he didn’t like or appreciate.

“When someone sends me a note that says, ‘Well, these people are going to die anyway, they’re just going to die sooner,’ I’m offended,” Gordon said. “As an American, most people are going to be offended that people should just get this COVID-19 and get out of the way. I’m sick and tired of that.”

Gordon reiterated that while the state and nation needed to stay open and keep the economy going, residents needed to continue to take precautions, such as wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

On the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, the number of new cases and hospitalizations in the state were listed as “concerning,” but the percentage of coronavirus tests returning a positive result was considered “improved,” although Gordon pointed out that the positive percentage has actually ticked up to 3% and that these reports were “concerning.”

He discussed the extension of the current public health orders, noting that the state was “well on [its] way” to relieving all of them, but now the trends are going upward. Gordon felt this was related to Wyomingites taking a “casual” approach to protecting their fellow citizens.

He also noted the state had seen 700 new laboratory-confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the last month and hospitalizations are also rising. While Wyoming isn’t seeing the spikes in cases and deaths seen in other states, Gordon asked his constituents to help keep Wyoming “safer.”

“There is no constitutional right to go infect somebody else, there is no constitutional right that says you can put others in harm’s way,” the governor said. “Let’s behave and be mindful of our neighbors. That’s the country I grew up in. That’s the neighborhood I grew up in.”

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24 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Reported In Wyoming On Wednesday

in Coronavirus/News
5319

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.

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases seen in Wyoming since the virus reached the state in March grew by 24 on Wednesday, but recoveries seen during the same period increased by 44, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

The department, in its daily coronavirus update, said nine counties reported new confirmed cases, while 10 new probable cases were also reported.

However, with a gain of 44 in recoveries, the number of active coronavirus cases in the state fell by 10 on Wednesday to total 459.

The department said new confirmed cases were reported in Albany, Campbell, Fremont, Laramie, Natrona, Park, Sheridan, Sweetwater and Teton counties. The largest increase was seen in Fremont County at seven.

As of Tuesday, Fremont County had seen a total of 356 confirmed cases since the pandemic began; Laramie County had 239; Uinta County had 168; Natrona and Sweetwater counties had 146; Teton County had 137; Park had 77; Campbell County had 74; Albany had 46; Washakie had 38; Lincoln had 36; Sheridan County had 27; Big Horn had 26; Johnson had 18; Converse had 17; Carbon had 16; Hot Springs had nine; Crook and Goshen had eight; Sublette had six; Platte and Weston had three, and Niobrara had 1.

The number of active cases on Wednesday stood at 459, with Laramie County having the highest number, 90.Fremont County had 83 active cases; Natrona County had 57; Park had 39; Sweetwater had 36; Uinta had 29; Campbell had 23; Albany had 21; Teton had 20; Big Horn had 18; Sheridan had 11; Lincoln had 10; Carbon had eight; Washakie had three; Converse, Goshen, Johnson, Sublette and Weston had two, and Crook had one.

Hot Springs, Niobrara and Platte 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 number of people to have recovered from the virus since mid-March was set at 1,506 Wednesday, including 1,211 recoveries among those with confirmed cases and 295 among those with probable cases.

A recovery is defined as occurring when a patient has no temperature for three days and has seen improvement in respiratory problems.

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 illness. The Department of Health said that as of Wednesday, 295 probable cases had been reported since mid-March.

There have been 22 deaths among Wyoming residents attributed to the coronavirus. However, two of those patients were living in Colorado at the time they were diagnosed with the illness and they were not counted as confirmed cases in Wyoming.

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Walmart, Sam’s Club To Require Masks In All Stores Beginning July 20

in Coronavirus/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will require all customers to wear masks beginning July 20, the stores’ chief operating officers announced Wednesday.

Signs will be posted at the entrances of all stores and Walmart will have “health ambassadors,” employees who will be stationed at entrances to remind customers about the new requirements. They will work with customers without masks to “find a solution,” according to the announcement.

To ensure consistency with this new process, all of the stores will have single entrances for the time being.

At the Sam’s Club stores, associates at the door will follow similar procedures, but complimentary masks will also be offered at the door. Members can also purchase masks inside the store.

“We know it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering,” the announcement said. “Our associates will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone.”

Sam’s Club members, in an email announcing the new policies, were told that if they do not want to wear a mask, they can take advantage of the store’s curbside pickup option.

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Wyoming House Candidate Tells Laramie City Council Mask Mandate Is Unconstitutional

in Coronavirus/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A candidate for the Wyoming House of Representatives recently penned an open letter to the Laramie City Council, telling its members their proposed mask resolution was unconstitutional.

Ocean Andrew, who is running to represent House District 46, posted the letter to Facebook on Tuesday, the same day the council was set to discuss a potential face mask resolution.

“I oppose all efforts to bring this dystopia to Wyoming,” Andrew said in the letter. “We have been able to maintain our color and flavor of life and I propose we keep it that way. What good is it to eliminate risk if it comes at the cost of happiness and quality of life? Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are all unalienable rights and I believe the proposal to require masks threatens all three.”

Andrew also owns the On the Hook Fish and Chips food truck, which currently employs around 60 employees and has trucks in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. His campaign website explains that Andrew moved to Wyoming seven years ago to “seek a certain freedom I believe can only be found in this state.”

“We are social beings, and we need to see each other’s faces otherwise we lack some of the most important elements of communication,” Andrew continued in his letter. “Is communication not what allows a free society to practice understanding and tolerance of our differences? What will happen when we lose that?”

He encouraged the council to punt the resolution and letting city and county residents make the choice to wear a mask.

The council ultimately voted the resolution down, 5-4.

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Wyoming Sees 47 New Coronavirus Cases Tuesday, Recoveries Up By 50

in Coronavirus/News
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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 new laboratory-confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in Wyoming increased by 47 on Tuesday, but recoveries from the illness seen since it was first diagnosed in the state in mid-March grew by 50.

As a result, the number of active cases in the state fell by three to total 469.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said 11 counties reported 36 new confirmed cases on Tuesday to bring the total number of confirmed cases seen since mid-March to 1,581. 

The department said new confirmed cases were reported in 11 counties Tuesday: Albany, Crook, Fremont, Johnson, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Sweetwater, Teton and Uinta. Laramie County had the largest increase with 15 new cases.As of Tuesday, the total number of cases seen since the pandemic began stood at 349 in Fremont County; 236 in Laramie County; 168 in Laramie County; 145 in Natrona and Sweetwater counties; 132 in Teton County; 76 in Park County; 71 in Campbell County; 45 in Albany County; 38 in Washakie County; 36 in Lincoln County; 26 in Big Horn; 25 in Sheridan; 18 in Johnson; 17 in Converse; 16 in Carbon; nine in Hot Springs; eight in Crook and Goshen; six in Sublette; three in Platte and Weston, and one in Niobrara.

The number of active cases on Tuesday stood at 469, with Laramie County having the highest number, 91.

Fremont County had 73 active cases; Natrona County had 57; Sweetwater County had 41; Park County had 40; Uinta County had 29; Teton had 27; Campbell had 26; Albany had 20; Big Horn had 18; Lincoln had 13; Sheridan had 12; Carbon had eight; Washakie had three; Converse, Goshen, Johnson, Sublette and Weston had two, and Crook had one.

Hot Springs, Niobrara and Platte 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 number of recoveries reported in the state grew by 50 on Tuesday to total 1,462, including 1,176 among patients with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases and 286 among those with probable cases.

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

The Health Department said as of Tuesday, 370 probable cases of coronavirus had been seen since mid-March.

There have been 22 deaths among Wyoming residents attributed to the coronavirus. However, two of those patients were living in Colorado at the time they were diagnosed with the illness and they were not counted as confirmed cases in Wyoming.

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Sweetwater County Man Becomes Wyoming’s 22nd Coronavirus Fatality

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Sweetwater County man has died as a result of coronavirus, the Wyoming Health Department announced Tuesday.

The older man’s death raises the number of Wyoming residents whose deaths were related to coronavirus to 22.

The department said the patient was an older man who had health conditions known to put people at a higher risk of serious illness as a result of COVID-19.

The department also clarified that it only lists deaths as being related to the coronavirus if the illness caused or contributed to the person’s death.

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Powell’s Northwest College Prepares For Return of Students

in Coronavirus/Education/News
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

At Northwest College in Powell, staff are preparing offices, classrooms and dorm rooms for the return of students on Aug. 19, even though officials are not sure how many students will show up for the fall semester.

West Hernandez, Enrollment Services Director at Northwest, said numbers for the fall semester are changing from week to week.

“It’s challenging to get an accurate picture,” he said. “You know, we have a good population of international students here at Northwest, and we don’t know what that’s gonna look like. And we have students who are just, and rightfully so, apprehensive about a large group of people coming to campus. So there is some talk about students nationally taking a gap year.”

Hernandez said he certainly understands why students are wary.

“We don’t know what this fall’s going to look like in many ways,” he said. “So you’re giving students information at this current time, with them hoping to make a decision, and sometimes you can’t give them everything.”

Hernandez said the college is still working out the details of what campus life will be like this fall — looking at a combination of online classes with in-person classes that would be held only with the appropriate safety measures in place.

“Students will have the opportunity to go to class in person at times, but also join us via Zoom for that live interaction,” he said.

Campus officials are making sure that Northwest College students are as safe as possible when school does start again this fall — that includes making mask-wearing mandatory for students and staff.

“We’re asking students and staff to wear masks while on campus, especially in those close quarter areas,” he noted. “You know, if you’re within 6 feet of somebody, it is going to be a requirement.”

Hernandez said the college’s staff is being diligent about cleaning facilities, but added students will need to do their part.

“We’re going to need the students’ help in following orders, monitoring how they’re feeling every day, and all those pieces. It’s definitely going to be a different fall semester than normal.”

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Gordon: Wyoming’s Public Health Orders To Remain In Place Until At Least July 31

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Public health orders in place to slow the spread of coronavirus will be left in place until at least July 31, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday.

Gordon, in a news release, said given recent increases in the number of coronavirus cases seen in the state, he believes the restrictions should remain in place.

“I’m disappointed again that we continue to see case numbers rise,” he said. “Wyoming residents only need to look at what Texas, Florida and Arizona are experiencing to see how much damage being careless, not wearing a mask and failing to social distance can cause to our state’s economy, our citizens’ health and our healthcare system.”

The orders in place limit public gatherings inside a building to 50 people or fewer and events held outside to 250 people or fewer, with proper social distancing to be observed.

Restaurants will continue to operate under the rules that the make sure tables are placed at least 6 feet apart, that staff working with members of the public wear masks and that businesses are sanitized regularly.

The measures had been set to expire or be amended on Wednesday, but Gordon said in the past two weeks, the state has had an average daily increase in laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases of 27. Hospitalizations due to the illness have grown to 17.

Gordon said the number of coronavirus tests showing positive results remains at 2.9%, well below the national average.

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39 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Seen In Wyoming, Active Cases Up By 1

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

New confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in 10 Wyoming counties on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming to 1,545.

However, the Wyoming Department of Health reported on Monday that the number of patients to recover during that same period grew by 40 to total 1,412, bringing the number of active cases in the state to 472 — an increase of one since Sunday.

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 among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

Laramie County had the highest number of active cases on Monday at 84, while Fremont County had 65. Natrona County had 55 active cases; Sweetwater County had 45; Park had 41; Campbell had 37; Teton and Uinta had 30; Big Horn had 18; Albany had 17; Lincoln had 16; Sheridan had 12; Carbon had eight; Washakie had four; Sublette had three; Converse, Goshen and Weston had two, and Johnson had one. Crook, Hot Springs, Niobrara and Platte counties had no active cases.

The number of active cases included 395 among patients with confirmed coronavirus cases and 77 with probable cases.

New confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in Fremont, Goshen, Laramie, Natrona, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Uinta and Weston counties Monday. Sweetwater had the highest number of new cases at 12.

The number of probable cases increased by three Monday to total 359 since the pandemic began. A probable case is defined as one where a patient shows coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness. 

Recoveries seen since mid-March have been seen among 1,131 among patients with confirmed cases and 281 among those with probable cases.

There have been 21 deaths among Wyoming residents attributed to the coronavirus. However, two of those patients were living in Colorado at the time they were diagnosed with the illness and they were not counted as confirmed cases in Wyoming.

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More Than $80 Million Distributed From State COVID Aid Program

in Coronavirus/Economy/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

More than 900 Wyoming businesses received more than $25 million in one day from the state’s Business Interruption Stipend program, according to state figures.

Figures on the Wyoming transparency page showed that on Wednesday, 915 companies received $25.3 million, bringing the total distributed under the program since it launched in June to almost $80.5 million.

The total number of Wyoming businesses to receive assistance under the program so far is 3,191, with applications still under review from about another 1,000 businesses. The deadline for submitting applications was July 2.

The Business Interruption Stipend program was one of three approved by the Legislature this year to help Wyoming businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting business slowdown. Funding for the programs comes from $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus assistance funds sent to the state.

The Business Interruption Stipend program is designed specifically for businesses employing 50 or fewer people.

The maximum grant available under the program is $50,000 and as of Wednesday, 831 businesses had received the maximum, many of them restaurants, bars and hotels.

The state’s other two relief programs are scheduled to start later this month.

One program, the Coronavirus Business Relief Stipend, will provide up to $300,000 for companies that employ fewer than 100 people that were forced to shut down or curtail operations because of state health orders issued to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The other, The Coronavirus Mitigation Fund, is designed to compensate businesses for expenses they faced directly related to the coronavirus, such as the purchase of cleaning products, personal protective equipment and the cost of hiring new employees to comply with public health orders.

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