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Wyoming Dept of Health Reports 46 More COVID-Linked Deaths

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of Wyoming residents whose deaths have been linked to the coronavirus has grown to 1,572, the Wyoming Department of Health announced Tuesday.

The department reported another 46 deaths connected to COVID-19 occurred in October, November and December.

The deaths included eight Natrona County residents, six women and two men who died in November and December, and seven Laramie County residents, four men and three women.

Six Fremont County residents, three men and three women, were also among the fatalities, as were four Park County men.

Other victims included an Albany County woman, a Carbon County woman, a Converse County man and woman, a Goshen County man, a Johnson County woman, a Platte County man and woman, a Sheridan County man and woman, a Sublette County man, two Sweetwater County women and one man, a Uinta County man and woman, a Washakie County man and woman, and two Weston County men.

The news came as Department of Health figures showed the number of active coronavirus cases in the state increased by 281 on Tuesday.

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800 New COVID Cases In Wyoming On Monday; 1,104 Recoveries; 1,228 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus decreased by 99 over the holiday weekend. 

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 1,104 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases from Friday to Monday. 

At the same time, the state reported 800 new laboratory-confirmed and 205 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,228 active cases on Monday.

Three counties have more than 100 active cases and two have more than 200. 

Teton County had 283 active cases; Laramie 254; Uinta 131; Albany 98; Natrona 95; Fremont 75; Campbell 58; Lincoln 41; Sweetwater 38; Sheridan 37; Park 34; Carbon 18; Platte 14; Crook and Weston eight; Converse and Goshen seven; Washakie six; Sublette had four, while Big Horn, Hot Springs, Johnson and Niobrara had three.

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 116,643 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 113,889 have recovered.

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316 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Friday; 189 Recoveries,

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus increased by 207 to end the year.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 189 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases on Friday. 

At the same time, the state reported 316 new laboratory-confirmed and 80 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,327 active cases.

Four counties had more than 100 active cases and two had more than 200. 

Teton County had 288; Laramie 285; Uinta 118; Natrona 107; Albany 94; Campbell 81; Fremont 72; Sweetwater 59; Sheridan 49; Lincoln 41; Carbon 23; Park 21; Converse 19; Goshen 16; Weston ten; Platte and Washakie nine; Big Horn and Sublette eight; Crook four; Hot Springs 3; Niobrara had two, while Johnson reported one active case.

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 115,638 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 112,765 have recovered.

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Wyoming Health Official Says New COVID Variant Creates More Uncertainty

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By Wendy Corr,  Cowboy State Daily

With COVID cases on the rise in parts of the world, many Wyoming residents wonder what the illness holds in store for the state as 2021 comes to a close.

Public health officials throughout Wyoming have faced a huge learning curve since the pandemic began more than 18 months ago: learning how best to communicate with each other; how best to disseminate information to the public; proposing mandates, and encouraging vaccinations. 

Now that the omicron variant is on the horizon, officials across the country are bracing themselves for what comes next.

Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County’s public health officer, said no one knows what’s going to happen with the omicron variant.

“In South Africa, where it first emerged, it became quickly the predominant variant,” Billin told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday, “But their severe cases did not go up. Now, their severe cases are going down and it’s still the predominant variant. So that’s why they think it is more transmissible — 70 times more transmissible than the delta variant — but it’s less severe.”

Billin pointed out that studies done on the omicron variant in the United Kingdom have provided contradictory results.

“One preliminary study suggested that it was equal in severity to the delta variant and another said it was less,” he said, adding that so far in the United States, one death has been attributed to the omicron variant.

“But it’s just so early, we’ve only known about the omicron variants for a couple of weeks,” Billin said. “So time will tell.”

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a new antiviral drug, molnupiravir, manufactured by Merck, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate coronavirus in adults who are at high risk of complications. 

It is the second COVID-19 antiviral pill authorized just this week for people to take at home before they get sick enough to be hospitalized. On Wednesday, the FDA authorized a similar antiviral pill, Paxlovid, manufactured by Pfizer, for the same use.

“So in two days, we have two oral agents, both of them for people who have mild to moderate COVID who are at risk for developing severe disease, meaning being hospitalized or dying,” Billin said. “So this is for people 60 and over who have heart disease, hypertension, COPD, cancer, or are immunocompromised.”

Billin stressed that the new antiviral medications aren’t for everyone.

“Unfortunately, people got the idea with monoclonal antibodies, that it was for everybody,” he said. “But it was for the same group, the groups at risk, and unfortunately, we had some local medical providers who prescribed it to anybody, and then we ran low for the people at high risk.”

Billin said the new antiviral pills hold several advantages over monoclonal antibody therapy.

“Monoclonal antibodies are always a liquid infusion,” he said. “(Intravenous) medicines need special storage considerations, they expire sooner. A pill can sit on a shelf for many months to years. A pill is much more stable, it doesn’t need special handling and never needs to be refrigerated. So this is a huge breakthrough.”

Billin noted even though the new pills have been approved, they will not be immediately available.

“Pfizer hopes to have courses to treat 100,000 to 200,000 people available by the end of the year,” he said. “And then they’re going to start cranking out production throughout 2022. But everything takes time — vaccines took time, monoclonal antibodies took time.”

Billin said the Wyoming Department of Health expects to receive a shipment of the pills within weeks, and will distribute them to every county in Wyoming.

“But because we don’t have a lot of courses of treatment, they’re going to be saved for the people at highest risk,” he said. “The public needs to understand, this is not for the 20- to 50-year-old who is healthy and takes no medicines. It is not for them. It’s for people at risk.”

Billin said public health officials refuse to give up hope in their battle against the coronavirus, despite the fact the pandemic has continued since March of 2020.

“We’ve all learned that we can’t afford NOT to be hopeful, regardless of what is happening, how our lives have changed – we have to be hopeful,” he said. “And the sooner we choose to be hopeful, the better our lives will be.”

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139 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Wednesday; 80 Recoveries; 930 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by 76 on Wednesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 80 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 136 new laboratory-confirmed and 17 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 930 active cases for Wednesday.

Two counties had more than 100 active cases and one had more than 200. 

Laramie County had 204; Uinta 116; Natrona 96; Teton 92; Fremont 58; Campbell 55; Sweetwater 48; Sheridan 43; Carbon 40; Park 29; Albany 28; Goshen and Weston 19; Lincoln 17; Sublette 13; Platte 11; Crook ten; Johnson eight; Big Horn seven; Converse six; Washakie and Hot Springs had five, while Niobrara reported one active case.

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 114,062 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 111,606 have recovered.

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No More Mask Mandates In Wyoming Beginning Jan. 1 After Cities Let Orders Expire

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

No city or town in Wyoming will have a mask mandate in effect beginning in the new year after Jackson will let its requirement expire at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Jackson’s mask order went into effect in late August, after the Delta variant of the coronavirus became the dominant strain in Wyoming. The next week, the Teton County Board of Commissioners extended the mandate until Dec. 31.

“Even though Teton County still remains in the Red/high risk level there are multiple developments that have occurred that allow us to feel more comfortable with the mask order expiring,” Teton County health officer Dr. Travis Riddell said. “These include authorization of booster (vaccination) doses for individuals 16 and up, enough time for 5 to 11 years old to receive the authorized COVID-19 vaccine and become fully vaccinated, reduction in the number of hospitalizations among Teton County residents, authorization of the first pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 for individuals with weakened immune systems, and the likely upcoming authorization of additional antiviral medications to treat mild and moderate cases of COVID-19.”

As of Tuesday, Teton County had 57 active cases. When county and Jackson town officials implemented the mask mandate, it had 166.

St. John’s Hospital in Jackson had two COVID patients hospitalized as of Tuesday.

Teton County also has the highest vaccination rate in Wyoming by far, with more than 85% of its population having been vaccinated against the virus.

Teton was the first of Wyoming’s 23 counties to implement a mask order once the statewide mask mandate expired in mid-March. Teton County kept its mask order in place longer than any other county in the state, letting it expire in early May and putting it back in effect in late August.

While some school districts around the state have adopted ask mandates for students, no counties have put another order in place since the statewide order expired.

In August, the Carbon County Republican Party called the Teton County’s second mandate “unconstitutional.”

“Will you comply with another unconstitutional mask mandate or illegal shutdown of select ‘unessential work-a-day’ private businesses? Let us know where you stand Wyoming, and be prepared to STAND UP!” party officials said at the time.

The first case of the omicron variant in Wyoming was found last week in Albany County.

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Number Of Wyoming COVID-Linked Deaths Rises By 24

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of deaths among Wyoming residents linked to the coronavirus has increased to 1,526, the state Health Department reported Tuesday

The department said the deaths of 24 people in October, November and December were connected to the illness.

Six Park County residents, five women and one man, died after being hospitalized for treatment of the illness.

The deaths of four Laramie County residents, three women and one man, were also linked to coronavirus.

Other victims included an Albany County man and woman, a Campbell County man and woman, a Converse County man and woman, a Fremont County woman and two Goshen County men.

Also connected to the virus were the deaths of a Natrona County man, a Platte County man and woman, a Sheridan County man and a Sweetwater County man.

The deaths were announced as department figures showed the state’s number of active coronavirus cases on Tuesday stood at 854, an increase of three from Monday.

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105 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Tuesday; 117 Recoveries; 854 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by three on Tuesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 117 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases Tuesday. 

At the same time, the state reported 105 new laboratory-confirmed and 39 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 854 active cases for Tuesday.

Two counties had more than 100 active cases. 

Laramie County had 196; Uinta 111; Natrona 93; Campbell 59; Teton 57; Fremont 51; Carbon 41; Sweetwater 39; Sheridan 36; Park 31; Albany 26; Weston 21; Goshen 17; Lincoln 12; Crook, Platte and Sublette ten; Johnson nine; Converse eight; Big Horn six; Washakie and Hot Springs had three, while Niobrara reported one active case.

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 113,906 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 111,526 have recovered.

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151 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Monday; 334 Recoveries; 851 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus decreased by 156 over the weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 334 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases between Friday and Monday. 

At the same time, the state reported 151 new laboratory-confirmed and 27 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 851 active cases. This is the first time since August that the state’s total number of active cases fell below 1,000. On Aug. 2, the active case tally was 979.

Two counties had more than 100 active cases. 

Laramie County had 189; Uinta 105; Natrona 91; Fremont 67; Campbell 66; Teton 43; Park; 41; Carbon and Sweetwater 40; Sheridan 28; Albany 27; Weston 20; Platte 17; Goshen 16; Johnson and Sublette 11; Crook and Lincoln nine; Big Horn and Converse six; Washakie five; Hot Springs had three, while Niobrara reported one active case.

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 113,762 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 111,409 have recovered.

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78 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Friday; 190 Recoveries; 1,007 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus decreased by 84 on Friday to end the week.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 190 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 78 new laboratory-confirmed and 28 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,007 active cases for Friday.

Three counties had more than 100 active cases and one one had more than 200. 

Laramie County had 233; Uinta 119; Natrona 102; Campbell and Fremont 82; Carbon 55; Sweetwater 54; Park 52; Teton 45; Sheridan 31; Albany 30; Weston 23; Goshen and Sublette 16; Johnson 13; Crook and Platte 11; Lincoln ten; Washakie eight; Converse five; Big Horn and Hot Springs had four, while Niobrara reported one active case.

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 113,548 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 111,075 have recovered.

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First Case Of Omicron Variant Found In Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has now seen its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Wyoming Department of Health announced Friday.

Lab sequencing has confirmed an Albany County adult who recently traveled domestically is infected with the omicron variant of COVID-19.

Confirmation is pending for a second Albany County adult presumed to also be infected with the omicron variant. Both cases were initially identified by a University of Wyoming laboratory with WDH involved with confirmation.

“With the quick spread of this variant across the nation, including within some of our neighbor states, we are not surprised with this result and expect there are other cases within Wyoming that haven’t yet been identified,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.

Harrist said there is much still to learn about omicron and its potential impact over time, but she is concerned about how easily and quickly the variant appears to be transmitted between people.

“We continued to encourage vaccination, including recommended booster doses, as the best and most effective strategy to counter COVID-19,” Harrist said.

As of Thursday, Wyoming had 99 hospitalized COVID patients, 37 of which were at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, according to the Wyoming hospitalization tracker. Laramie’s Ivinson Memorial Hospital was treating three coronavirus patients.

As of Monday, 42.6% of Wyoming’s population was vaccinated against COVID. Just over half of Albany County’s population, 52.8%, was vaccinated.

The omicron variant has been reported in 38 states, according to Centers for Disease Control data. Though reported Omicron cases have so far been mild, experts advise that every precaution should be taken to prevent infection, CBS News reported.

In Orlando, Florida, Omicron was found in nearly 100% of the wastewater samples taken this week, CBS also reported.

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Organization Asks To Join Mask Mandate Lawsuit As Albany County Schools Look For Dismissal

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming nonprofit organization has asked a U.S. District Court to let it join a lawsuit over mask requirements in place in some school districts across the state.

The motion to intervene filed by Families for Healthy Communities was filed just days before another school district, Albany County School District No. 1, joined several others in asking to be dismissed from the lawsuit.

At issue is a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of 11 plaintiffs, including Grace Smith, the Laramie High School student who was arrested on a charge of trespass recently for refusing to wear a face mask inside the high school. The lawsuit filed against the state and several school districts asks the court to find the mask mandates in place in several school districts unconstitutional.

Families for Healthy Communities, a Wyoming nonprofit membership organization, filed a motion to intervene and join the lawsuit on Dec. 9. In its motion, Families for Health Communities said it wanted a say in the lawsuit becuse it has an interest in protecting the health of its student members and their families from COVID through masking, which would be impaired if the lawsuit succeeds in eliminating mask requirements in schools.

“Families’ members support face mask requirements in school…more stringent than (Wyoming Health Department) guidelines, to protect their health and that of their fellow students, teachers, staff and of their families and community,” the motion read.

Families’ lawyers argued that the state and school districts involved in the lawsuit could not adequately represent the nonprofit’s interests, because “governments are prone to making shifts in policy.”

“It is no secret that (the state and school districts) are under significant pressure to eliminate their COVID-19 response policies,” the motion said.

Meanwhile, the Albany County district filed its motion asking to be dismissed from the lawsuit on Thursday.

“(The people filing the lawsuit) fail to allege any invasion of legally-protected interest that constitutes an injury-in-fact,” the motion said. “The vast majority of … allegations do not concern any actions done by ACSD respondents.”

The initial lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Nov. 2 alleges that rules adopted by some districts requiring students to wear masks while in class, observe social distancing and to quarantine when exposed to coronavirus have been improperly adopted.

In addition to Smith and her father, the lawsuit names as plaintiffs the parents of other students from schools across the state.

The 128-page lawsuit alleges Gov. Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Department of Health, state Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, six school districts and county health officers in five counties imposed various coronavirus-related restrictions and requirements even though they lacked the authority to do so. The school districts are in Sheridan, Albany, Laramie, Goshen, Sweetwater and Uinta counties.

The lawsuit asks the court to find there was never an imminent threat to Wyoming’s residents from coronavirus, that Gordon’s initial emergency declaration was unconstitutional, that school districts have no authority to impose such mandates and that all such orders should be lifted immediately.

Within the last month, Sheridan County School District No. 2, Laramie County School District No. 1 and the Wyoming Department of Health have all filed motions to be dismissed from the lawsuit.

The court has not yet made a decision on the motions.

Smith was arrested at Laramie High School in October for trespassing. She had been suspended due to her refusal to wear a mask, as the Albany County School District 1 has a mask mandate in place, and would not leave school grounds after being repeatedly told to do so.

She has since withdrawn from the high school to attend her junior year online, but has not ruled out returning to Laramie High for her senior year.

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97 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Thursday; 91 Recoveries; 1,091 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus increased by 28 on Thursday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 91 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 97 new laboratory-confirmed and 22 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,091 active cases for Thursday.

Three counties had more than 100 active cases and one had more than 200. Laramie County had 244 active cases; Natrona 123; Uinta 121; Campbell and Carbon 89; Fremont 84; Park 57; Sweetwater 49; Teton 39; Sheridan 33; Albany 28; Weston 27; Goshen 21; Platte 14; Johnson 13; Lincoln 12; Crook nine; Converse and Hot Springs six; Washakie five; Big Horn had three, while Niobrara reported two active cases. 

No county reported zero 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 113,478 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 110,885 have recovered.

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111 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Wednesday; 98 Recoveries; 1,063 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by 28 on Wednesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports Wednesday of 98 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 111 new laboratory-confirmed and 15 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,063 active cases for Wednesday.

Three counties had more than 100 active cases and one had more than 200. Laramie County had 233 active cases Wednesday; Uinta 121; Natrona 116; Carbon 88; Fremont 83; Campbell 79; Park and Sweetwater 56; Teton 33; Sheridan 32; Weston 31; Albany 27; Goshen 20; Sublette 18; Johnson, Lincoln and Platte 13; Washakie seven; Converse and Crook six; Hot Springs five; Big Horn had four, while Niobrara reported three 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 113,359 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 110,794 have recovered.

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103 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Tuesday; 113 Recoveries; 1,035 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by 13 on Tuesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 113 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 103 new laboratory-confirmed and 53 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,035 active cases for Tuesday.

Three counties had more than 100 active cases, with one having more than 200.Laramie County had 238; Natrona 124; Uinta 114; Campbell 78; Fremont 75; Carbon 73; Sweetwater 55; Park 53; Teton 35; Weston 27; Goshen and Sheridan 24; Albany 22; Sublette 18; Lincoln and Platte 15; Johnson 11; Converse seven; Big Horn, Hot Springs and Washakie six; Crook had five, while Niobrara 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 113,233 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 110,696 have recovered.

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Gordon Condemns Punishment Against National Guard Who Don’t Get Vaxed

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon has joined four other Republican governors in challenging the federal government’s ability to enforce a vaccine mandate on National Guard members.

In the letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, the governors argued that disciplinary directives to National Guard members serving in a state capacity “are beyond (the Secretary’s) constitutional and statutory authority.”

Under the vaccine mandate of the administration of President Joe Biden, National Guard members were given until Dec. 2 to get the vaccine, obtain an exemption from the requirement or be removed from service.

But Gordon said the federal government does not have command or control of National Guard units.

“Under Title 32 duty status, the Wyoming National Guard is under my command and control,” Gordon said Tuesday. “These directives are an overreach of the federal government’s authority.”

In the letter to Austin, the governors noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed “that the National Guard is under the command and control of the Governor of each state unless those members are called to active service under Title 10.”

The letter asks Austin to reconsider directives that dictate whether training can occur, set punishment requirements and require separation from a state’s National Guard for any Guard member refusing to be COVID-19 vaccinated.

Joining Gordon in signing the letter were Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi and Gov. Mike Dunleavy of Alaska and Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma.

Late last month, a federal judge ordered a halt to the enforcement and implementation of the vaccine mandate for health care workers in Wyoming and other states.

Wyoming, as part of a coalition with nine other states, argued that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not have authority to issue the mandate and that the vaccine requirement would impact the ability of health care facilities to effectively care for patients.

President Joe Biden earlier this year announced his plan to require vaccinations for federal employees, health care workers and workers at companies that employ more than 100.

Last month, Gordon signed HB1002, which prohibits state and local public entities from enforcing a federal mandate. However, it would not take effect until a federal court, in response to legal action, blocks the mandate.

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Wyoming’s COVID-Related Deaths Increase To 1,502

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of Wyoming residents whose deaths have been tied to coronavirus has grown to 1,502, the Wyoming Department of Health announced Tuesday.

The department said 30 deaths that occurred in October, November and December have all been linked to the illness.

Four Campbell County residents, two men and two women, were among the fatalities, as were four Laramie County residents, three women and one man.

Natrona County also saw four deaths related to coronavirus, three men and one woman, while three Park County residents, two women and a man, also died.

The deaths of three Sweetwater County residents, a woman and two men, were also tied to coronavirus. Other fatalities included an Albany County woman, a Carbon County man, a Converse County man, a Crook County man, a Fremont County man and woman, a Goshen County woman and a Johnson County woman.

The deaths of two Lincoln County residents, a man and a woman, were also tied to coronavirus, as was the death of a Sheridan County man and a Washakie County woman.

The announcement came on the same day state figures showed the number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming increased by 13 to total 1,035.

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161 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming Over Weekend; 474 Recoveries; 1,022 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total decreased by 259 over the weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 474 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases between Friday and Monday. At the same time, the state reported 161 new laboratory-confirmed and 54 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,022 active cases for Monday.

Three counties had more than 100 active cases and one had more than 200. Laramie County had 249; Natrona 122; Uinta 119; Campbell 82; Carbon 68; Fremont 63; Sweetwater 55; Park 53; Teton 31; Weston 24; Albany 23; Sheridan 22; Goshen 20; Sublette 17; Lincoln 15; Platte 14; Converse and Johnson nine; Big Horn and Washakie seven; Crook and Hot Springs had five, while Niobrara reported three 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 113,077 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 110,583 have recovered.

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Cheyenne Hospital Boarding Patients In ER Due To High Number Of COVID Infections

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne’s hospital continues to see a high number of COVID patients since the summer, forcing some emergency patients to be boarded in its emergency room for a time.

Kathy Baker, spokeswoman for Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, said some patients seeking care from the hospital have had to stay in the care rooms of its emergency room for up to a couple of days.

“We have been busy, but that doesn’t mean people should avoid coming to the hospital for an emergency like a heart attack or stroke,” she said. “We have had to board some patients in the emergency department and that could be anywhere from one to two hours or even a couple days.”

There were around 13 patients who were being boarded in the emergency department as of this week, Baker said. While staying in the ER, patients receive the same standard of care as in the hospital’s other rooms.

Baker told Cowboy State Daily that the hospital had 49 COVID patients as of Friday, the majority of whom were unvaccinated against the virus. While the hospital has seen some cases of coronavirus among patients vaccinated against the illness, more of the cases are found among unvaccinated patients.

CRMC has by far the most COVID patients in the state, exceeding by more than 20 the number of patients being treated at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper.

Most of the patients are either from Cheyenne or Laramie County, which currently has the highest case rate of active COVID cases in the state.

As of Thursday, Laramie County had 324 active COVID cases. Natrona County had the second highest number of cases, with 217.

Baker could not really speak to why the Cheyenne hospital has been so busy with COVID patients compared to the rest of the state, but noted that the hospital’s chief nursing officer, pointing to vaccinations among the hospitals COVID patients, concluded that vaccines do work.

“The lack of masking and social distancing, it’s all making for more cases going around,” Baker said.

According to the Wyoming Department of Health, around 43.5% of Laramie County residents are vaccinated.

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130 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Thursday; 159 Recoveries; 1,426 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus increased by 21 on Thursday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 159 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 130 new laboratory-confirmed and 50 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,426 active cases for Thursday.

Five counties had more than 100 active cases, with two having more than 200. Laramie County had 324; Natrona 217; Carbon 134; Campbell 113; Uinta 112; Fremont 76; Sweetwater 73;  Park 71; Sheridan 52; Teton 38; Albany 36; Goshen and Lincoln 28; Platte 22; Converse 19; Weston 18; Johnson 17; Sublette and Washakie 11; Big Horn nine; Crook had seven; while Niobrara and 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 112,731 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 109,833 have recovered.

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Barrasso, Lummis Will Vote To Cancel Biden Vaccine Mandate

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis announced on Wednesday that they will vote against President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate for private companies employing more than 100 people.

The Senate was to vote Wednesday on a Republican proposal to strip funding for enforcement of Biden’s mandate that workers at companies employing more than 100 people either be vaccinated or undergo regular coronavirus testing.

The measure was expected to clear the Senate as two Democratic senators — Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — signaled they would vote for it.

Barrasso and Lummis, who are both vaccinated, spoke out in favor of the proposal, expressing concerns over government overreach as their reason for support.

“I’m a doctor. I am pro-vaccine but I’m anti-mandate,” Barrasso said. 

“That’s because I believe this mandate is a massive overreach by the government and a massive mistake. So today, we are going to pass the Congressional Review Act to get rid of this mandate,” he said.

Lummis said citizens of Wyoming should consult with their physicians when deciding whether to get the vaccine and government should not be a part of that conversation.

“I will keep fighting for the rights of people in Wyoming to make their own medical decisions, she said.

As for its chances in the U.S. House?  It might have sufficient support to pass.

U.S. Sen. Rick Braun, R-Indiana, said there are enough Democrats in battleground districts that could be pressured into signing it.

“There are 30 Democrats in swing districts that are going to have to” take a hard look at signing, he said.

Becoming law is another matter. White House Press Secretary Psaki on Wednesday said the bill is doomed.

“If it comes to the president’s desk, he will veto it,” Psaki said.

“Our view and the view of many Americans is that if people aren’t vaccinated, having them test once a week is quite reasonable as we’re thinking about how to protect our workplaces, how to protect stores and retail locations as people are out shopping for Christmas and the holidays, how to protect schools and public places. And we also know that more than 100 leading public health experts have endorsed this rule,” she said.

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Wyo Dept of Health Reports 44 New Covid-Related Deaths in Wyoming

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of Wyoming residents whose deaths have been linked to the coronavirus has increased to 1,472.

The Wyoming Department of Health reported that in the last week, it connected the deaths of 44 residents in October and November to the illness.

The fatalities included 11 Natrona County residents, seven men and four women, who all died in November, as did five Fremont County residents, three women and two men.

Four Laramie County residents, all men, died in November, and four Platte County residents were among the victims, three men and one woman.

Other victims included an Albany County man, a Big Horn County man and woman, two Campbell County men and one woman, a Carbon County man, three Converse County men, two Goshen County men, and a Hot Springs County woman.

A Park County man died in October and a Park County woman died in November, two Sheridan County women died in November and a Sweetwater County woman and man died in November.

The department’s announcement Tuesday came as its figures showed the number of active coronavirus cases in the state dropped by 19 from Monday to total 1,346.

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276 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Monday; 453 Recoveries; 1,365 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus declined by 66 over the weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 453 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases between Friday and Monday. 

At the same time, the state reported 276 new laboratory-confirmed and 111 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,365 active cases for Monday

Four counties had more than 100 active cases, with one having more than 300. 

Laramie County had 314; Natrona 199; Uinta 133; Campbell 113; Carbon 98; Sheridan 81; Fremont 66; Park 61; Sweetwater 55; Albany 47; Teton 37; Lincoln 27; Platte 20; Converse 19; Goshen 18; Big Horn 15; Johnson 14; Crook 12; Sublette 11; Weston nine; Washakie eight; Niobrara had six, while Hot Springs reported two 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 112,199 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 109,406 have recovered.

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Cheyenne Schools Sued Over Mask Requirement

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A lawsuit filed against Cheyenne school districts seeks to have the mask requirement in place in district schools ruled unconstitutional.

The lawsuit filed in state district court in Cheyenne asks the court to rule that the school district has improperly forced some students to wear masks, taking responsibility for their medical care out of the hands of their parents.

“(U.S.) Supreme Court decisions have made explicit that the Constitution protects a person’s right to ‘refus(e) unwanted medical care,’” said the lawsuit filed Friday by Cheyenne attorney Cassie Craven. “The coercion and requirement that a student wear a mask, in spite of their explicit request to the contrary, violates the liberty and privacy interests that the (Constitution protects).”

The lawsuit filed on behalf of six students and their parents challenges the way the district’s mask requirement has been implemented, particularly in the case of one student who the lawsuit said has been bullied by staff at Jessup Elementary School over her reluctance to wear a mask.

The wearing of masks has become a political issue in schools, the lawsuit said, and students who do not wish to wear masks are treated differently than other students, a violation of constitutional guarantees for equal protection of the law.

“Some schools (have) … become a political playground where students are ridiculed for differing beliefs and teachers and officials are making medical decisions for students without lawful authority to do so,” it said. “The impact of these decisions has resulted in a discriminatory and harassing environment in which some students no longer feel safe.

“A school is no place for political discourse and lectures about medical decisions that impact one’s bodily integrity,” it continued. “To do so takes a space that is presumed safe and constitutionally required and tarnishes it beyond measure.”

Much of the lawsuit focuses on a student identified only as “M.H.,” who it said has a problem wearing the masks because of trauma-related issues she suffers as a result of an attempted kidnapping a few years earlier. It quoted her as saying “I feel like I’m being held captive in my mask.”

But the student’s requests for breaks from the mask to avoid panic attacks have been denied “and used as a source of ridicule and targeted harassment against her,” the lawsuit said, identifying one teacher in particular as “targeting” M.H.

The teacher allegedly told M.H. “we don’t want you here,” the lawsuit said. It said other students who do not wish to wear a mask also face discrimination by school staff.

“M.H.’s individual rights are being violated for the sake of an adult collective population to whom our public school system holds no constitutional duty to protect,” the lawsuit said.

Of the other five students identified in the lawsuit, two, age 15 and 9, have suffered breathing difficulties while using face masks and have complained of headaches daily, along with difficulties in concentrating.

In all but one of the cases, the lawsuit said the parents were denied the right to make medical choices for their children.

In the other case, a student was subjected to a “false quarantine order,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $100,000 for M.H. on allegations of negligence by administrators in her school and Laramie County School District No. 1. 

No damages are sought for the other students; however, the lawsuit does ask the court to find the district’s mask rule unconstitutional and a violation of the rights of parents to make medical decisions for their children.

“The disciplinary protocols and other burdens being leveraged by the district to garner compliance are not proportional to the constitutional duties and statutory authority of schools,” it said. 

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213 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Friday; 223 Recoveries; 1,431 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by 29 on Friday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 223 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 213 new laboratory-confirmed and 39 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,431 active cases for Friday

Four counties had more than 100 active cases and two had more than 200. 

Laramie County had 284; Natrona 212; Uinta 130; Campbell 115; Carbon 98; Sheridan 86; Sweetwater 69; Fremont 655; Park 61; Albany 60; Lincoln 40; Teton 34; Platte 28; Johnson 24; Converse 23; Sublette 20;  Goshen 19; Washakie 17; Big Horn 16; Crook 13; Weston 8; Niobrara had seven, while Hot Springs reported two active cases. No counties reported zero 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 111,812 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 108,953 have recovered.

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237 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Thursday; 271 Recoveries; 1,402 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus increased by 14 on Thursday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 271 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases Thursday. 

At the same time, the state reported 237 new laboratory-confirmed and 48 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,402 active cases.

Four counties have more than 100 active cases and two have more than 200. 

Laramie County had 263 active cases; Natrona 221; Campbell 129; Uinta 127; Sheridan 99; Carbon 96; Albany 64; Sweetwater 60; Fremont 55; Park 38; Lincoln 34; Teton 32; Johnson 29; Platte 24; Converse 22; Sublette 20; Washakie 29; Niobrara 18; Goshen 16; Big Horn and Crook 14; Weston had seven, while Hot Springs reported one active case.

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 111,560 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 108,730 have recovered.

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School Districts, State Asking For Dismissal Of Mask Mandate Lawsuit

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

At least two school districts and the Wyoming Department of Health have asked a U.S. District Court to dismiss a lawsuit that mask requirements in place in some schools across the state be ruled unconstitutional and declared void.

Sheridan County School District No. 2, Laramie County School District No. 1 and the Wyoming Department of Health have all filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit filed in early November on behalf of Laramie student Grace Smith and 10 others.

The Sheridan school district filed its motion on Nov. 19, while Cheyenne schools and the WDH filed motions on Tuesday.

In its brief in support of its request for dismissal, the Sheridan district said the 128-page lawsuit was not prepared according to the rules governing federal court action.

“Instead, it is the type of verbose diatribe that federal courts regularly condemn,” the brief said. “The allegations are not stated in simple, concise, and direct terms…but rather are lengthy and argumentative, and include many references to extrinsic materials that Petitioners believe support their theories concerning Covid-19.”

The initial lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Nov. 2 alleges that rules adopted by some districts requiring students to wear masks while in class, observe social distancing and to quarantine when exposed to coronavirus have been improperly adopted.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 plaintiffs, including Smith, the Laramie High School student who was arrested on a charge of trespass recently for refusing to wear a face mask inside the high school.

In addition to Smith and her father, the lawsuit names as plaintiffs the parents of other students from schools across the state.

The 128-page lawsuit alleges Gov. Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Department of Health, state Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, six school districts and county health officers in five counties imposed various coronavirus-related restrictions and requirements even though they lacked the authority to do so. The school districts are in Sheridan, Albany, Laramie, Goshen, Sweetwater and Uinta counties.

“Each and every one of these various (executive orders), health orders and policies were, and continue to be issued arbitrarily without lawful authority which resulted in confusing and chaotic outcomes such as the closing of businesses, limited government service, limited business services, the closing of schools and day care facilities, and the mandatory wearing of face coverings that serve no medical purpose as to the declared emergency as a few examples,” the lawsuit said. “These various arbitrary decisions have resulted in many and repeated violations of the petitioners’ rights and liberties.”

The lawsuit asks the court to find there was never an imminent threat to Wyoming’s residents, that Gordon’s initial emergency declaration was unconstitutional, that school districts have no authority to impose such mandates and that all such orders should be lifted immediately.

However, the Cheyenne school district said in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit that the complaint suffered from “a serious jurisdictional infirmity,” a point also raised by the Wyoming Department of Health.

“Although the amended complaint references federal law, it does not identify any specific provision of the United State’s Constitution or any federal statute that would provide the basis for the Court to have jurisdiction,” the WDH motion read. “Rather, petitioners only complain about actions taken by the respondents under State law.”

The court has not yet granted or denied the dismissal from any of these entities, though.

Smith was arrested at Laramie High School in October for trespassing. She had been suspended due to her refusal to wear a mask, as the Albany County School District 1 has a mask mandate in place, and would not leave school grounds after being repeatedly told to do so.

She has since withdrawn from the high school to attend her junior year online, but has not ruled out returning to Laramie High for her senior year.

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Cheyenne Hospital Tells Employees Either Get Vaccinated Or Be Tested Weekly

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center employees are now being asked to either get vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly COVID tests, the hospital’s CEO announced this week.

On Monday, CRMC CEO Tim Thornell emailed hospital employees to tell them a judge’s ruling blocking a federal vaccine mandate will have no impact on CRMC’s requirements.

“As we indicated in our town hall meetings and other communications, Cheyenne Regional was prepared to implement our own COVID-19 vaccination policy apart from the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] mandate. And, if the CMS requirement were to be put on hold, we would move forward with our plan. So, we will do just that,” the email said.

As part of his proposed national vaccine mandate, President Joe Biden called for the full immunization of all health care workers. Under rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care facilities whose employees were not fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 could lose Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Wyoming and nine other states sued the CMS, claiming the agency lacked the authority to implement the requirement and a federal judge in Missouri on Monday issued a preliminary injunction to block the requirement. Judge Matthew Schelp ruled that in trial, the states would probably be successful in their claims.

The injunction is in place in the 10 participating states at least until hearings into the lawsuit itself can begin. As a result, the length of time it will be in place is not known.

CRMC is not requiring its employees to get vaccinated, unlike the CMS rules, but is offering employees who do not want to be vaccinated the option of submitting to weekly COVID tests.

If employees are not fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, they will have to undergo weekly testing, Thornell’s email said.

“This plan will immediately replace the CMS plan, and remain in effect until further notice,” Thornell said.

The hospital is also suspending a vaccine exemption process, since employees can now elect to be tested rather than get a vaccine.

“We continue to support our staff getting vaccinated and believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is an effective means of reducing severity of illness, hospitalization and death,” Thornell told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “We also allow our employees to exercise choice and opt-out of vaccination through routine testing.”

Earlier this year, CRMC full-time employees who were fully vaccinated received incentives of either 16 hours of paid time off or a $600 bonus, part-time employees received either eight hours of PTO or $300 and on-call employees received a $150 bonus.

Eric Boley, president of the Wyoming Hospital Association, said he has heard from a number of hospital officials who said they were glad to learn of a stay on the mandate, even though no one knows how long it will be in place.

During the recent special session of Wyoming’s Legislature, a number of health care facility officials testified that their facilities are already short-staffed and the vaccine mandate could drive more employees away from health care, leaving the facilities unable to treat patients.

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108 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Wednesday; 32 Recoveries; 1,388 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by 154 on Wednesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports Wednesday of 32 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 108 new laboratory-confirmed and 78 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,388 active cases for Wednesday

Five counties had more than 100 active cases and two had more than 200. 

Laramie County had 288; Natrona 206; Uinta 150; Campbell 123; Sheridan 106; Albany 76; Sweetwater 68; Fremont 41; Park 35; Carbon 34; Washakie 31; Lincoln and Platte 30; Johnson 29; Teton 28; Converse and Sublette 21; Goshen and Niobrara 17; Big Horn and Crook 15; Weston had six, while Hot Springs reported one active case.

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 111,275 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 108,459 have recovered.

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Wyoming Hospitals Relieved By Court Decision To Halt Biden Vaccine Mandate

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Many of Wyoming’s hospitals are welcoming a temporary halt to the enforcement of a federal mandate that their employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Eric Boley, president of the Wyoming Hospital Association, said he has heard from a number of hospital officials who said they were glad to learn of a stay on the mandate, even though no one knows how long it will be in place.

“I heave heard from many of them around the state that there are many that are relieved,” he said. 

As part of his proposed vaccine mandate, President Joe Biden called for the full immunization of all health care workers. Under rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care facilities whose employees have not received at least the first dose of the vaccine could lose Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Wyoming and nine other states sued the CMS, claiming the agency lacked the authority to implement the requirement and a federal judge in Missouri on Monday issued a preliminary injunction to block the requirement. Judge Matthew Schelp ruled that in trial, the states would probably be successful in their claims.

The injunction is in place in the 10 participating states at least until hearings into the lawsuit itself can begin. As a result, the length of time it will be in place is not known.

“Who knows what it means in the long run,” Boley said. “At least for right now, they don’t have to worry about it.”

During the recent special session of Wyoming’s Legislature, a number of health care facility officials testified that their facilities are already short-staffed and the vaccine mandate could drive more employees away from health care, leaving the facilities unable to treat patients.

Protests have also been held at several Wyoming hospitals by health care workers who object to the mandate.

Boley said the WHA opposes the mandate, but not the vaccine itself.

“We shared testimony during the special session that we oppose the mandate, but we also believe the vaccine is the answer to getting us through this pandemic,” he said.

The stay on the federal government’s rules will have no impact on the private employers such as Banner Health which have issued their own requirements for their employees to receive the vaccine, Boley said.

The announcement of the stay was welcomed Monday by Gov. Mark Gordon, who also expressed concerns about the impact the mandate could have on health care employment.

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Wyoming COVID-Related Deaths Rise By 81 Over Last Two Weeks

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of deaths of Wyoming residents linked to the coronavirus grew to 1,428 over the last two weeks, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

The department on Tuesday announced that 81 more Wyoming deaths have been tied to COVID. The deaths occurred in October and November.

The department did not issue an update on coronavirus-related deaths last week because of the holiday, so Tuesday’s report combined numbers from the last two weeks.

Seventeen Natrona County residents were among the victims, nine men and eight women, while 14 Laramie County residents, 10 women and four men, also died in October and November.

Twelve Fremont County residents, six men and six women, were reported among the victims as were eight Park County residents, four men and four women.

Other victims included six Campbell County residents, four women and two men, two Albany County women and one man, two Carbon County men, two Converse County women and one man, a Crook County woman, a Goshen County man, a Niobrara County woman, two Platte County women and one man, a Sheridan County man and woman, a Sublette County man, three Sweetwater County men and one woman, a Uinta County man, a Washakie County woman and a Weston County woman.

The announcement was made on the same day that the department’s numbers showed the number of active COVID cases in the state increased by 36 to total 1,234.

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Gordon Welcomes Court Action Halting Biden’s Vaccine Mandate For Health Care Workers

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A federal judge has ordered a halt to the enforcement and implementation of a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers in Wyoming and other states.

Gov. Mark Gordon welcomed the issuing of a temporary injunction issued in a lawsuit filed by Wyoming and nine other states against the mandate issued by President Joe Biden.

“This is welcome news for Wyoming’s rural health care facilities, which are already facing staffing challenges without additional unconstitutional burdens being placed on their employees by the federal government,” Gordon said. “Health care employees should not be forced to choose between vaccination and termination.” 

Biden earlier this year announced his plan to require vaccinations for federal employees, health care workers and workers at companies that employ more than 100.

Under the proposal, a vaccine was required prior to Dec. 6 for every employee, volunteer and contractor working at a wide range of health care facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicare funding. Health care facilities not complying could lose Medicaid or Medicare funding, under rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In its ruling, the federal court in Missouri agreed to temporarily halt implementation and enforcement of the rule because arguments made by Wyoming and the other states have a likelihood of success on the merits.

Wyoming and the coalition have argued that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not have authority to issue the mandate and that the vaccine requirement would impact the ability of health care facilities to effectively care for patients.

“Because it is evident CMS significantly understates the burden that its mandate would impose on the ability of healthcare facilities to provide proper care, and thus, save lives, the public has an interest in maintaining the ‘status quo’ while the merits of the case are determined,” wrote the court. 

The ruling applies only to the 10 states that joined in the lawsuit: Wyoming, Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.

Wyoming has gone to court to challenge all three pieces of the mandate. The other two legal challenges involve:

  • Filing a lawsuit against the Biden Administration for imposing a vaccine mandate on federal contractors and federally contracted employees. Wyoming is currently awaiting a ruling on a request for a temporary injunction in the case. 
  • Filing a second lawsuit to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration emergency temporary standard which mandates vaccines on employees of private Wyoming businesses with over 100 employees. This also resulted in a pause on the implementation of the ETS. 

A three-judge panel for the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 12 that plaintiffs behind lawsuits filed against the federal government over the mandate would probably be successful in their claims that the Biden administration had overreached its authority with the mandate.

Earlier this month, Gordon signed HB1002, which prohibits state and local public entities from enforcing a federal mandate. However, it would not take effect until a federal court, in response to legal action, blocks the mandate.

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432 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Monday; 1,323 Recoveries; 1,198 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total decreased by 763 over the weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures released for the first time since Wednesday showed that the department received reports of 1,323 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases between Wednesday and Monday. 

At the same time, the state reported 432 new laboratory-confirmed and 128 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 1,198 active cases for Monday.

Four counties have more than 100 active cases, with only one having 200. Laramie County had 246; Uinta 158; Natrona 156; Campbell 109; Sheridan 97; Albany 72; Sweetwater 60; Fremont 37; Park 30; Washakie 28; Carbon 27; Platte 26; Goshen 23; Teton 21; Johnson 19; Lincoln 18; Niobrara 17; Sublette 15; Big Horn 13; Crook 10; Converse eight; and Weston had seven, while Hot Springs reported one active case. 

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 110,824 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 108,279 have recovered.

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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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Gordon Signs Special Session Bill That Pushes Back Against Vaccine Mandates

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon signed the one bill that made it through the recent Wyoming Legislature special session that proposes action in opposition to the federal vaccine mandate.

On Friday, Gordon signed HB1002, which prohibits state and local public entities from enforcing a federal mandate. However, it would not take effect until a federal court, in response to legal action, blocks the mandate.

The bill also provides $4 million to help those harmed physically or financially by the mandate take legal action against the federal government and expresses support for Wyoming taking legal action to halt the mandate.

Gordon noted that he had already committed to challenging President Joe Biden administration’s vaccine mandates in the courts prior to the special session being called.

He added while he appreciated the Legislature’s support through the bill, he was concerned about the cost to taxpayers of the special session.

“This bill confirms the Legislature’s support for the Executive branch’s previously-expressed determination to fight federal overreach in the courts,” Gordon said. “I thank the Legislature for recognizing their distinct constitutional responsibility as appropriators in forwarding resources to support this endeavor. The people of Wyoming can rest assured that this Governor will always be committed to protecting the constitutionally enumerated rights of Wyoming citizens.”

Wyoming has filed three separate legal actions to challenge the federal vaccine mandates, including a lawsuit against the Biden administration for imposing a vaccine mandate on federal contractors and federally contracted employees.

A second lawsuit challenges the Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws that require any worker for a company employing more than 100 people to get a vaccine or be tested regularly for coronavirus. The third asks a federal court to overturn the vaccine mandate on health care workers throughout the nation. 

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Laramie School District Extends Mask Mandate Until December

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Laramie school board members have extended the school district’s mask mandate for K-12 students until mid-December, around the time students leave for the holiday break.

The Albany County School District’s mask mandate will be in place until at least Dec. 17.

“The board determined that since the two-week winter break starts the Monday following Dec. 17, families that choose to vaccinate against COVID-19 will have until Monday, Jan. 3, to have their children fully vaccinated before school resumes,” the announcement from the board said.

The board also said that it would revisit the mask mandate after Dec. 17 if either the county vaccination rate rises to 70% or the Wyoming Department of Health lists the county in its moderate transmission level zone for three weeks. Currently, the county is in the moderate-high transmission level zone.

As of Wednesday, Albany County had 125 active COVID cases and 50.2% of the county has been vaccinated against the virus, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

The mandate’s extension comes in the face of a lawsuit filed against the school district and five others. The district was named in the lawsuit for pursuing trespass charges against a student because she refused to wear a mask at Laramie High School.

Grace Smith was arrested last month on trespassing charges for refusing to leave the school after being asked to do so because she was not wearing a mask.

Grace went into custody willingly and was polite with officers when arrested, videos taken and shared by her father show. The teen was also fined $1,000.

Grace has withdrawn from the high school due to the controversy, but has not ruled out enrolling again for her senior year.

A federal lawsuit filed against the state, school districts and others on behalf of a group of Wyoming students and their parents, including Grace, is asking that all mask requirements in place in some schools across the state be ruled unconstitutional and declared void.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Nov. 2 charges that rules adopted by some school districts requiring students to wear masks while in class, observe social distancing and quarantine when exposed to coronavirus have been improperly adopted.

The 128-page lawsuit alleges Gov. Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Department of Health, state Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, six school districts, county health officers in five counties imposed various coronavirus-related restrictions and requirements even though they lacked the authority to do so. The school districts are in Sheridan, Albany, Laramie, Goshen, Sweetwater and Uinta counties.

Albany County School District No. 1, which includes Laramie High, adopted its requirement for the use of face masks in September.

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Polling Company: Wyoming Most Anti-Vax State in Country For Covid

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

When it comes to being opposed to the Covid vaccine, Wyoming is tops in the nation and by a significant margin, according to a new poll.

The poll conducted by The Morning Consult, a polling company which specializes in survey research technology, showed Wyoming the overwhelming leader in opposing the vaccine with 35% of its residents stating they will not receive it.

The poll, released Thursday morning, showed Idaho and Oklahoma next in line with 29% of those citizens opposing the shot while Massachusetts residents were the most accepting with only 9% planning not to receive the vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Wyoming has the second-lowest vaccination rate at 44.6% while Idaho is at 44.4%.

In September, Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell told Cowboy State Daily that he had watched “a lot of people die unnecessarily” and thought residents of Wyoming would have started to feel differently about the vaccine.

“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.

“It’s like me trying to tell an electrician how to wire a house. I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about.  That’s how it feels,” he said.

However, that opposition does change Dowell said. But it takes getting hospitalized for that to happen.

“The majority who have been hospitalized with Covid — what comes out of their mouth is: “Oh my God, why didn’t I get the vaccine. Oh yeah, we hear that universally,” he said.

Dowell said the vaccine has unfortunately become political unlike times in the past when people would line up and get the smallpox and polio vaccine without thinking about it.

“Everyone stepped up to the plate and got it. and we got rid of both of those in the United States,” he said. “Yet now, it’s political and we are allowing it to go on and kill people.”

The polling company said the state-level vaccine opposition rates were based on 208,000 surveys conducted from October 9 to November 8. An average of 4,088 surveys were conducted in each state.

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Wyoming Leads Nation In Nursing Home COVID Cases

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has the highest rate of COVID cases among nursing home residents in the nation, according to data released by the AARP this week.

There were 150 laboratory-confirmed cases among nursing home residents in Wyoming during the four-week period ending on Oct. 17, AARP reported, a rate of 8.5 per 100 residents. Montana had the second-highest rate almost 7 per 100 residents.

Nearly 35% of the nursing homes in the state had seen COVID cases among residents during that four-week period, while 84.4% of the nursing homes saw COVID cases among staff.

Despite the high number of cases, almost 90% of Wyoming’s nursing home residents are vaccinated, while 60.7% of health care staff are vaccinated, according to AARP.

“It is encouraging to see a large increase in the number of nursing home staff who are vaccinated. However, nearly half a million direct care staff remain unvaccinated as of mid-October,” said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “More than a year and a half into the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to spread in nursing homes. We must ensure that all residents and staff are vaccinated to bring the pandemic under control.” AARP has called on nursing facilities to require vaccination.

There were 27 nursing home deaths in the state over that four-week period, giving Wyoming the second-highest rate of nursing home resident deaths in the nation, coming in behind Montana.

Washington, D.C. and Hawaii had the lowest death rates in the nation, zero per 100 residents.

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Wyoming Files Third Lawsuit Over Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming on Wednesday filed a third lawsuit aimed at stopping the federal coronavirus vaccine mandate proposed by President Joe Biden.

Gov. Mark Gordon announced that the state had joined nine others in challenging the portion of the mandate that would require vaccinations for health care workers.

“Wyoming continues to face a significant shortage of health care workers and this federal mandate will only exacerbate our health care 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 impact Wyoming communities, rural health care and residents of skilled nursing facilities.”

Biden earlier this year announced he planned to require federal employees, health care workers and workers at companies employing more than 100 people to either get the coronavirus vaccine or be tested regularly for the disease.

The mandate on health care workers will come in the form of rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Wyoming and the other states in October filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration seeking to halt the vaccine requirement for federal contractors and federally contracted employees. Earlier this month, the state joined in a second lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration seeking to block the vaccination mandate for companies employing more than 100 people.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Missouri said the mandate could further reduce the ranks of health care workers in rural areas.

“Indeed, the circumstances in the Plaintiff States—facts that CMS, which skipped notice-and-comment rulemaking, did not fully consider—foreshadow an impending disaster in the healthcare industry,” it said. “By ignoring the facts on the ground and unreasonably dismissing concerns about workforce shortages, the CMS vaccine mandate jeopardizes the healthcare interests of rural Americans.”

The lawsuit asks the court to find the vaccine mandate as imposed by the CMS to be unconstitutional, voiding it and putting measures in place to prevent the agency from imposing any kind of vaccine mandate.

Other states involved in the lawsuit are Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota and New Hampshire.

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307 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Wednesday; 39 Recoveries; 2,786 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case total increased by 372 on Wednesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 39 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 307 new laboratory-confirmed and 104 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,786 active cases for Wednesday.

Eight counties have more than 100 active cases, with having more than 200. Natrona County had 517; Laramie 490; Sweetwater 207; Fremont 201; Campbell 160; Uinta 154; Sheridan 150; Albany 125; Park 93; Goshen and Lincoln 79; Carbon 63; Johnson 61; Washakie 58; Teton 54; Weston 52; Sublette 50; Platte 49; Converse 39; Crook 36; Big Horn 31; Niobrara had 28, while Hot Springs reported 10 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 106,698 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. 

Of those, 102,614 have recovered.

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55 More Covid-Related Deaths in Wyoming

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of deaths of Wyoming residents tied to the coronavirus grew to almost 1,300 on Tuesday as the Wyoming Department of Health released its latest fatality numbers.

The department said 55 more Wyoming deaths have been linked to COVID-19, raising the total number of fatalities since the illness was first discovered in the state in March 2020 to 1,298.

Nine Fremont County residents, six women and three men, were among the latest victims of the illness, as were nine Natrona County residents, five men and four women.

The victims also included nine Park County residents, seven men and two women, and five Campbell County residents, three men and two women.

Other victims included an Albany County woman, a Big Horn County man and woman, a Converse County man, two Crook County men, a Goshen County man, three Laramie County men, a Lincoln County man, a Niobrara County man and woman and a Platte County man.

A Sheridan County man and woman were also among those whose deaths were linked to the illness, as was a Sublette County man, two Sweetwater County women and one man, two Uinta County men and a Weston County man.

The announcement came as department figures showed the number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming fell by 52 on Tuesday to total 2,414.

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143 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Tuesday; 294 Recoveries; 2,414 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case tally decreased by 52 on Tuesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 294 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 143 new laboratory-confirmed and 154 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,414 active cases for Tuesday.

Six counties have more than 100 active cases and two have more than 200. 

Natrona County had 464; Laramie 439; Fremont 183; Uinta 160; Campbell 152; Sheridan 134; Sweetwater 98; Albany 96; Park 80; Goshen 72; Lincoln 68; Carbon 59; Johnson 56; Teton 53; Weston 46; Platte and Washakie 45; Sublette 35; Crook 34; Converse 33; Big Horn 32; Niobrara had 22, while Hot Springs reported eight 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 106,287 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 102,575  have recovered.

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Arrested Laramie Student Among Group Suing State, School Districts Over Mask Mandate

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A federal lawsuit filed against the state, school districts and others on behalf of a group of Wyoming students and their parents is asking that all mask requirements in place in some schools across the state be ruled unconstitutional and declared void.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Nov. 2 charges that rules adopted by some school districts requiring students to wear masks while in class, observe social distancing and quarantine when exposed to coronavirus have been improperly adopted.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 plaintiffs, including the Laramie High School student who was arrested on a charge of trespass recently for refusing to wear a facemask inside the high school. In addition to Grace Smith and her father, the lawsuit names as plaintiffs the parents of other students from schools across the state.

The 128-page lawsuit alleges Gov. Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Department of Health, state Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, six school districts, county health officers in five counties imposed various coronavirus-related restrictions and requirements even though they lacked the authority to do so. The school districts are in Sheridan, Albany, Laramie, Goshen, Sweetwater and Uinta counties.

“Each and every one of these various (executive orders), health orders and policies were, and continue to be issued arbitrarily without lawful authority which resulted in confusing and chaotic outcomes such as the closing of businesses, limited government service, limited business services, the closing of schools and day care facilities, and the mandatory wearing of face coverings that serve no medical purpose as to the declared emergency as a few examples,” the lawsuit said. “These various arbitrary decisions have resulted in many and repeated violations of the petitioners’ rights and liberties.”

The lawsuit traces the origins of school mask orders to Gordon’s decision in March 2020 to declare a state of emergency because of coronavirus, which gave the state the authority under state law to order the closure of some businesses, require the use of face masks in public settings and put in place other health-related measures.

But the lawsuit filed by Buffalo attorney Nick Beduhn said the coronavirus outbreak did not reach the level of severity required by state law to allow the declaration of an emergency.

“The petitioners believe, and therefore contend, that (state law) sets for certain criteria that MUST be met to invoke the authority of emergency powers,” it said. “The petitioners further contend that not a single one of the criteria set forth (in state law) existed within Wyoming on March 13, 2020; nor has ever existed to present.

“First and foremost, decisions must be made pursuant to the statutory criteria based on actual creditable factual data/documentation as to what the condition/situation is in Wyoming — not on outlandish computer models; or what the (World Health Organization) does or says; or what a U.S. president does or says; or what other states are doing,” it continued. “It must be based upon creditable documentable facts as to what the condition/situation is in Wyoming.”

The lawsuit also questioned the tests used to show that coronavirus remains a problem in the state, saying those results have been used to “maintain the illusion of a severe health crisis.”

Although all of the statewide health orders have been allowed to expire, the original emergency declaration remains in place, said Michael Pearlman, a spokesman for Gordon, so the state can access resources and “waive certain rules/regulations.” However, he added Gordon its reviewing the order to determine if it is still necessary.

In addition, school districts have been allowed to adopt their own mask, social distancing and quarantine rules, the lawsuit said even though they lack the constitutional authority to do so, the lawsuit said.

It added some school districts have maintained the mask orders in spite of problems some students have had using them. The lawsuit detailed the stories of a number of students — the children of those identified as petitioners — who it said have suffered adverse effects from the masks, including anxiety attacks, breathing problems and rashes.

It alleged schools have declined to grant exemptions to mask requirements sought by parents and added the children who have declined to wear masks have been bullied by classmates and intimidated by teachers.

The lawsuit asks the court to find there was never an imminent threat to Wyoming’s residents, that Gordon’s initial emergency declaration was unconstitutional, that school districts have no authority to impose such mandates and that all such orders should be lifted immediately.

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510 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Monday; 1,063 Recoveries, 2,466 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus decreased by 391 over the weekend.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 1,063 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases between Friday and Monday. 

At the same time, the state reported 510 new laboratory-confirmed cases and 162 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,466 active cases for Monday.

Eight counties have more than 100 active cases, with two having more than 200. Laramie County had 462; Natrona had 428; Uinta 195; Fremont 192; Campbell 147; Sheridan 145; Sweetwater 113; Albany 109; Goshen 77; Lincoln 73; Park 70; Carbon 63; Platte 50; Washakie 48; Johnson and Weston 47; Teton 46; Crook 36; Converse 33; Sublette 31; Big Horn 27; Niobrara had 18, while Hot Springs reported nine 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 105,990 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 102,281  have recovered.

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Cheyenne Hospital Seeing “Unprecedented” Surge In Patients

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne’s hospital is seeing an “unprecedented” surge in patients, its CEO announced on Monday.

According to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center CEO Tim Thornell, the surge is due to people in the Cheyenne area experiencing a number of illnesses and emergencies, from COVID-19 and heart attacks to complications from diabetes and other issues.

Due to the surge, the hospital’s staff is housing and caring for patients in the hospital’s emergency department until an inpatient room becomes available, delaying the move of some patients into regular rooms.

Thornell said that last Thursday, the hospital had more than 20 patients who were being housed in the emergency department until they could be admitted to the hospital’s inpatient units.

As of Monday morning, the number of patients waiting for an inpatient room had declined to 11.

“To address this situation, CRMC has contingency plans that allow us to surge beyond our normal capacity. Those plans were put into effect late last week,” Thornell said.

The hospital had 41 coronavirus patients hospitalized as of Monday, according to a social media post, 35 of whom had not been vaccinated for COVID. Hospital staff share daily updates of how many people are at CRMC.

Patients with less serious conditions have also seen their wait times for emergency department care increased, Thornell said.

“We anticipate this situation will be short lived; however, we are cautiously planning for an extended period,” he said. “We are sharing this news so that our community understands why emergency wait times are increasing and why inpatient rooms are not readily available.”

He also noted that the current limits on inpatient rooms are due largely to staffing isuses, not ongoing constrution at the hospital.

“Despite these tremendous challenges, our employees and providers are working 24/7 to ensure that everyone who comes to us receives an appropriate level of care,” Thornell said. “We continue to emphasize that anyone experiencing signs or symptoms of a heart attack, stroke or any other medical emergency please call 911 right away; do not delay getting emergency help.”

He added that delaying care could result in a worsening condition that might require more intensive treatment or adverse outcomes.

“We understand that this current situation is alarming. But we believe it’s important that we are transparent about what is happening and why,” Thornell concluded. “Please know that no matter the circumstances, we continue to be here for our community.”

According to the Wyoming COVID hospitalization tracker, 172 people were hospitalized due to the virus across the state Monday.

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Wyoming Teachers, School Administrators Continue To Struggle With Pandemic

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Across the country, school staff are feeling the strain as the pandemic wears on.

And school administrators are trying their best to prop up their employees.

Tim Foley is the interim superintendent for Park County School District No. 6 in Cody. He has worked in the district for 10 years, his wife is a teacher and he has two school-age children – so Foley has a unique perspective on how the pandemic is affecting students and staff.

“I get to hear how my wife’s experiences are going with students that are in remote learning or quarantined,” he said, “and then I have an eighth grader and a sophomore, so I get to experience remote learning as a parent as well.”

Foley said the current school year has probably been more difficult than last because each district in the county has been allowed to make their own rules when it comes to pandemic protocols. 

“Last year, we all were doing the same thing,” he said. “So every district was requiring masking, and we had health orders, and it just seemed like there was a great deal of consistency. But this year, you know, I think we’re all pretty tired of COVID.”

Jay Curtis, the Superintendent for Park County School District 1 in Powell, applauded the way his employees are staying strong during this trying time.

“I think that the teachers are holding up remarkably well,” he said. “They are a resilient bunch. However, our teachers are definitely feeling the strain of the school year already.”

As this school year began, Foley said the Cody district made the decision to afford parents, students and staff as much choice as possible while still following health recommendations. So masks are not  required, but students and staff can wear masks if they choose.

“And then if a child has close contact with another individual (who tests positive for the virus), we have required them to quarantine,” he said. “And I think that’s really what’s put a strain on our system, is having these students that are quarantined, because they’re quarantined for 10 days, they can test on day five, and if they’re negative, they can come back to school on day eight. But that still means a student’s out of school for eight days.”

That quarantine period requires teachers to do extra work, preparing lessons for students who are physically in the classroom, while trying to provide remote learning. 

“Now sometimes remote learning is paper-pencil packets that are sent home, sometimes it’s using our learning management system, which is called Canvas, that mainly takes place at the middle school and the high school,” Foley said. “But then the teachers have also tried to zoom with students.”

He said complications arise for students who may not have access to a consistent wireless signal, or whose requirements to stay home cause issues for working parents.

“Last week, we did send a survey out to our staff, asking them about potential changes to our quarantine protocol,” he said. “And early next week, our administrators, our nurses, other district leaders, along with input from public health, we’re going to look at a change to our quarantine protocol, as far as what we are going to ask of students when they are in close contact with someone who tests positive.”

But teaching remotely is only one of the complications. Another issue is the need for substitute teachers, which are in higher demand due to quarantine and isolation protocols.

“Historically, September is a difficult month for us for substitutes,” Foley said. “Partly because of where we live, because many people have summer jobs, or they run their own business, and we still have tourists in September, many are still tied up with that kind of work, and they just can’t substitute. And so usually, by October, we see a little relief from that.”

But because of the pandemic, Foley said many regular substitutes have been reluctant to return to school.

“I think it’s gotten better, but it’s still not great,” he said. 

Curtis agreed the situation has created a challenge.

“When we are short substitutes, we have to rearrange, put in para-educators that are certified,” he said. “We might have to combine some classes, we might have principals subbing a class. We just have to scramble around and make it work.”

Curtis explained that he has been working with Northwest College in Powell to create a substitute teacher training program.

“And I’m actually teaching it myself because they couldn’t find an instructor,” he said.

Curtis said 25 people attended the class, including a few from Cody.

“I’m hoping we can get a pretty good turnaround on the transcripts in Northwest College to get these folks certified,” he said. “Hopefully that acts as a pressure relief valve on the substitute situation.”

But teachers aren’t the only positions being filled by substitutes.

“We don’t have a large substitute pool for school bus drivers,” Foley said, citing the specific requirements needed to drive school bus, along with the extracurricular activities that pull regular drivers away for out-of-town events. 

School nurses and administrative secretaries are also feeling the weight of the extra work required to stay in control of the pandemic.

“We hired three contact tracers to take the burden off of our nurses and principals,” Curtis said. “Because when you have one get through the door with COVID, it takes up a principal’s (or nurse’s) entire day, tracking them through the day, making phone calls.” 

Foley said the district is doing its best to support school staff during this stressful time.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking about is how we can change remote learning or change quarantine just to make this more manageable,” he said. “Because one of the things that I think our teachers are trying to do is to recreate the classroom experience in a remote environment, and that’s nearly impossible to do. And we just don’t want them to try to burn the candle at both ends, so we’re really trying to lessen that burden on our teachers, because we’re only about close to 12 weeks into the school year, and teachers are tired. And that’s just not a sustainable model.”

“We are trying to actively not put more on our teachers’ plates than we absolutely have to,” said Curtis. “People cannot do a lot of extra work right now, and maintain their sanity.”

Foley said the district is also offering mental health counseling as part of the benefit package. 

“So a staff member can use one of our mental health counselors in the community, and then they just work with human resources,” he explained. 

“I just can’t say enough good things about the teachers that we have in Powell,” Curtis added, “because so many of them, even though they’re weary, they just maintain such a great attitude and they know that what we’re doing matters and they want to do what’s best for kids.”

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357 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Thursday; 488 Recoveries; 3,033 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus increased by 49 on Thursday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 488 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 357 new laboratory-confirmed and 180 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 3,033 active cases for Thursday.

Twelve counties had more than 100 active cases, with four having more than 200. 

Natrona County had 554; Laramie 430; Fremont 247; Sheridan 266; Campbell 173; Uinta 167; Sweetwater 161; Albany 141; Park 121; Goshen 117; Carbon 105; Lincoln 99; Weston 91; Washakie 63; Teton 60; Converse 54; Crook 45; Platte 44; Niobrara 33; Johnson 32; Big Horn 31; Sublette had 28, while Hot Springs reported 11 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 104,940 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 100,664 have recovered.

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180 New Coronavirus Cases In Wyoming On Tuesday; 293 Recoveries; 2,614 Active

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily. 

Wyoming’s active coronavirus case count increased by five on Tuesday.

Wyoming Department of Health figures showed that the department received reports of 293 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable cases. 

At the same time, the state reported 180 new laboratory-confirmed and 187 new probable cases, leaving Wyoming with 2,614 active cases for Tuesday.

Eleven counties had more than 100 active cases, with three having more than 200. Natrona County had 469; Laramie 350; Fremont 223; Sheridan 187; Campbell 172; Uinta 154; Albany and Sweetwater 131; Goshen 113; Park 103; Lincoln 90; Carbon 84; Weston 75; Converse 59; Teton 55; Washakie 51; Platte 40; Crook 36; Sublette 25; Johnson 22; Big Horn 20; Niobrara had 17, while Hot Springs reported seven 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 103,989 the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus since the first case was detected in Wyoming in March 2020. Of those, 100,132 have recovered.

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69 More Covid-Related Deaths in Wyoming, Health Department Says

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of deaths among Wyoming residents related to the coronavirus climbed to 1,243 on Tuesday, the Wyoming Department of Health reported.

The department announced that 69 more deaths among Wyoming residents between August and the end of October had been linked to the coronavirus, bringing the fatality toll to 1,243 since the illness was first reported in March 2020.

Thirteen Sweetwater County residents, nine men and four women, died in September and October, the department said, and nine were hospitalized for the treatment of coronavirus.

Ten Natrona County residents, six men and four women, died in October, while nine Park County residents, seven men and two women, also died. Eight Laramie County residents, six men and two women, were also among the victims.

The victims also included six Converse County residents, four men and two women, five Campbell County residents, four men and one woman, and four Carbon County residents, all men.

The deaths of four Fremont County residents, three women and one men, were also linked to the illness.

Other victims included two Albany County men and one woman, a Big Horn County man, a Goshen County man, a Lincoln County man and woman, a Sheridan County man and two Sublette County men.

The announcement came as the Department of Health reported that active coronavirus cases in Wyoming remained relatively stable Tuesday, growing by five to total 2,614.

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