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Cluster Of Coronavirus Cases Tracked To Douglas Bar; 18 Quarantined

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A cluster of five coronavirus cases in Converse County have been traced to a Douglas bar, according to Converse County officials.

The Converse County Emergency Management Agency reported in a news release that five people tested positive for coronavirus after visiting The Waterhole during the long holiday weekend.

“They were all exposed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 6,” Russ Dalgarn, Converse County’s emergency manager, told Cowboy State Daily. “We can’t tell if they were in the bar at the exact same time, but they were all in the bar at some point during the holiday weekend.”

In addition to the five laboratory-confirmed cases among both customers and staff, officials have tracked one probable case to the bar and have ordered the quarantine of another 18 people who were in contact with the infected individuals.

Dalgarn said health officials are still working to conduct contact tracing to determine who might have been in contact with the people who tested positive for the virus.

Dalgarn also said officials are continuing to test those who were in contact with the infected individuals.

“Hopefully today we don’t have another big spike in cases,” he said.

According to Wyoming Department of Health figures, the number of people sick with active coronavirus cases in Converse County increased by 11, growing from eight to 19, between Sept. 5 and Friday.

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Barrasso: Biden Slowly Emerging From The Basement Only To Destroy The Country

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The topic might have been the coronavirus package the GOP was trying to get passed through the U.S. Senate but U.S. Sen. John Barrasso’s floor statement took varying twists and turns around that topic.

Wyoming’s Barrasso, displeased at the opposing party for not passing the Republican bill, instead took multiple shots at presidential nominee Joe Biden.

In fact, images of a swamp-like Halloween creature crawling out of a grave could come to mind the way Barrasso described Biden.

“He seems to be ever so slowly coming out of his hiding place in the basement,” Barrasso said. 

“His answer to the coronavirus when he just edged out of the basement a little bit … was to shut down the entire country again,” the senator said.

“That would be a recipe for disaster. That’s what the former vice president, the nominee of the Democratic Party has said he would do — shut the country down again,” he said.

While the thrust of Barrasso’s speech was on the coronavirus, he took plenty of sidesteps to mention the former vice president and his shortcomings — like what he has said about the riots and violence in the country — or the lack of what he said at the Democratic convention.

“Joe Biden didn’t even mention the violence that was plaguing Democrat-run cities all across the country,” he said.  “Not a single one of the Democrat speakers at their convention mentioned the destruction, looting, rioting, and the violence.”

Barrasso said Biden’s failure to address the riots at the convention was tantamount to encouraging the riots to continue and added that Biden, along with the Democratic Party, has “surrendered to the left wing mob.”

When changing subjects briefly to discuss the U.S. economy and how it has rebounded since the depths of the pandemic, Barrasso brought up his favorite punching bag again.

“The experts had it all wrong,” he said. “The experts said that heading into the fall, we’d have an unemployment rate at over 16%. It’s now down to 8.4%.”

“When President Obama and Vice President Biden were running the economy, we had an unemployment rate of over 9% for 30 months in a row — over 9% for over 30 months,” he said.

In the end, it doesn’t appear anything related to coronavirus aid will happen before the election. The vote failed on Thursday and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby said it “looks” like “negotiations are dead.”

But that doesn’t mean, discussions of Joe Biden coming out of his basement are dead. In fact, they are probably just beginning.

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48 New Coronavirus Cases Thursday; 604 Active

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming fell to 604 on Thursday as the Wyoming Department of Health reported recoveries among 69 people with confirmed and probable cases.

The department, in its daily coronavirus update, said 48 new cases were reported Thursday, leaving the state with 21 fewer active cases than were seen Wednesday.

Albany County had 100 active cases; Laramie had 80; Carbon had 76; Fremont had 52; Natrona had 51; Sheridan had 47; Park had 43; Goshen had 29; Campbell and Teton had 21; Converse had 19; Sweetwater had 17; Lincoln had 10; Uinta had nine; Big Horn and Crook had six; Washakie and Weston had four; Hot Springs and Sublette had three; Johnson had two, and Platte had one.

Niobrara County remained the only county in the state without an active case.

The active cases were found among 488 people with confirmed cases and 116 people with probable cases.

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

Also on Thursday, the number of people to recover from coronavirus increased by 69 to total 3,553 since the illness was first detected in Wyoming in March. The recoveries were seen in 3,029 people with confirmed cases and 524 people with probable cases.

The total number of people infected with the illness since the pandemic began grew to 4,199 on Thursday, an increase of 48 from Wednesday.

The Department of Health said 39 new confirmed cases were reported in Albany, Campbell, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Goshen, Hot Springs, Laramie, Natrona, Park, Sheridan, Sweetwater, Teton and Uinta counties. Laramie County saw the largest number of new cases at six.

The number of probable cases seen since March increased by nine Thursday to total 640. A probable case is defined as one where the patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness.

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Covid Task Force In Park County Dissolved As Virus Becomes “New Normal”

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

As the pandemic goes, Park County, Wyoming is a pretty quiet place. Critical care unit beds seldom contain virus patients, some people wear masks while others don’t, and school is in session – albeit with safety measures in place.

According to Kyle Paquin, the infection preventionist for Cody Regional Health, the number of cases in Park County has been far less than what they prepared for.  

“Well, nobody really knew how it was going to affect our community, or even our hospital,” he explains. “We didn’t know if we were going to see a bunch of cases, whether it was even going to make it to us. So it was kind of unknown what was going to come of it.”

 So when the pandemic began, Paquin says health officials there created a task force that was designed to handle any potential crisis related to the pandemic. But the worst case scenario never occurred – and six months after its creation, the incident command system was no longer necessary.

While Paquin notes that back in March they were meeting sometimes twice a day, “towards the end it was two times a week, and then it was down to once a week, and we just finally de-mobilized the ICS.”

But the demobilization of the task force isn’t just due to the lower number of cases. According to hospital officials here, it’s because COVID is just now… the new normal. 

“So it just kind of coming to terms that, it’s still here,” Paquin says, “but it’s something that’s become normal for us now.”

And Paquin adds that they’re not the only hospital system that’s making these changes.

“We work with other organizations, with Billings Clinic, Public Health, I work with the state, kind of everybody’s on the same page when it comes to that,” he reports. “We just kind of make sure that we are doing everything that we possibly can to help our hospital.”

With fewer than 45 current active cases, and only one death attributed to the virus since the outbreak began, Park County health officials will continue to urge residents to act responsibly, obey public health regulations, and do their best to keep each other safe.

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65 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming; 498 Active

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of people sick with coronavirus fell by almost one-fifth Friday as the Wyoming Department of Health reported 171 recoveries among those with both confirmed and probable cases.

Department figures provided in its daily coronavirus update showed the number of active coronavirus cases fell to 498 on Friday, a decline of 106 — 17.5% — from Thursday despite the reporting of 65 new confirmed and probable cases. 

The largest decline in active cases was seen in Carbon County, where the number of people still sick with the illness fell by 48.

Albany County had 72 active cases as of Friday; Laramie had 65; Natrona had 57; Fremont had 54; Sheridan had 49; Carbon had 28; Park had 25; Teton had 24; Campbell had 21; Converse and Goshen had 19; Sweetwater had 15; Lincoln had 10; Crook had eight; Uinta had seven; Big Horn and Sublette had six; Washakie had four; Weston had three, and Hot Springs, Johnson and Platte had two.

Niobrara County remained the only county in the state with no active cases.

The active cases included 388 people with confirmed coronavirus and 110 people with probable cases.

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

The increase in the number of recoveries brought to 3,724 the number of people to recover from the virus since it was first detected in Wyoming in March. The recoveries include 3,175 among people with laboratory-confirmed cases and 549 among those with probable cases.

The number of new confirmed cases went up by 46 on Friday with reports of new cases in 15 counties: Albany, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Platte, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater and Teton.

Natrona County saw the largest increase with 11 new cases.

The increase brings to 3,605 the number of people seen with lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The number of probable cases, where a patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case but has not been tested, went up by 19 on Friday to total 659 since mid-March.

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Weston County Commissioners Back Away From Public Health Orders

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By Alexis Barker, Newcastle News Letter Journal

NEWCASTLE — The Weston County commissioners took a stand against COVID-19 health orders by voting 2-1 to rescind the chairman’s signatures from state/county health orders presented by Dr. Mike Jording, the county’s health officer. 

The county has experienced an increasing number of COVID-19 cases over the past month, according to Wyoming Department of Health website. 

At the time of the vote, the commissioners stated that a quorum of the board was considered three commissioners per state statute so decisions could be made by vote, although they maintained throughout the discussion that it would be preferred to have a full board, and in the end made the decision without two commissioners present.

Weston County did not have a positive case until June; to date the county has added 13 to the total number of cases, a majority of those in the last month according to information from the department.

As of Sunday, the department of health had the county listed as four active cases of COVID. Chairman Ed Wagoner and Commissioner Tracy Hunt voted to rescind the signatures, while Commissioner Marty Ertman voted against the motion citing the absence of commissioners Nathan Todd and Tony Barton.

The commissioners seemed to favor drafting a resolution similar to the one in Goshen County that declares all businesses essential and requests a variance to the health orders for the entire county. 

“The resolution asks that the governor respect the individual people’s rights to make their own health care decisions,” Hunt said of the proposed resolution.

He noted that while it does not have any weight legally, the resolution makes a statement about the position of the Weston County commissioners concerning the handling of the pandemic. 

“I think it is important that the governor knows that there are people who may not be very vocal but are unhappy with the direction that the public health officers have taken,” Hunt said. 

Hunt, who voted against signing the health orders originally, explained that he has been a skeptic since the beginning. 

“You can count me as a skeptic since early on, and I have become increasingly opposed. I come just short of calling it a scam or a hoax,” Hunt said. “I do think there is a virus and people are sick. I think there is a demographic that should pay attention.” 

But, the government’s action should be proportional to the threat and that in this situation nothing is measuring up, Hunt said.

He noted that the carnage, including suicide, increased unemployment, mental health issues, economic decline and mass closures, caused by the shutdown is worse than the virus, in his opinion. 

 “I think it is important that the governor know from as many as possible that they are not happy with the direction of his intervention,” Hunt said. 

While expressing support for the overall thought, Ertman insisted that the commission should wait to hear from Todd and Barton. She added that during previous discussions there had been opposition to passing a resolution without all five commissioners present. 

Wagoner said that, in looking back at the signing of the health orders in March, he believes the commissioners were misinformed about the seriousness of the issue. 

“Looking back now, it would have handled it differently,” Wagoner said. “We want to protect our people, but knowing what we do now, it (health orders) would have been wadded up and in the garbage.” 

Despite Ertman’s insistence that the board wait until the other commissioners are present, Wagoner and Hunt both voted in favor of the motion. Two votes of the three were all that were needed for the motion to pass. 

Hunt was adamant that he had no issue passing the motion without the others present and that they both had opportunity to request that the topic be tabled until they were present. 

“There was a reason I had asked for it to be tabled. That is because I don’t know if anyone has the enthusiasm I do for the topic. I wanted to make a fair argument,” Hunt said. “It would be nice if it was unanimous. … We have had things done with just three, though.”

Hunt also said that he would draft a resolution similar to the Goshen County measure. The commissioners also agreed to continue looking at a variance to the public health orders for the entire county.  

Weston County Public Health Nurse Lori Bickford said that she had no comment about the actions taken by the commissioners. 

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48 New Coronavirus Cases; 625 Active

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of lab-confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in Wyoming increased by 48 Wednesday to push the number of people still sick with the disease up to 625, according to Wyoming Department of Health figures.

The department, in its daily coronavirus update, said 37 new laboratory-confirmed cases were reported in 13 counties Wednesday, while the number of probable cases in the state went up by 11.

With the reporting of 33 recoveries during the day, the numbers mean the state has 625 active coronavirus cases, an increase of 15 from Tuesday.

Albany County had 105 cases — most of them, 70, involving University of Wyoming students or staff. Carbon County had 76; Laramie County had 75; Fremont County had 57; Natrona and Sheridan had 52; Park had 43; Goshen had 31; Teton had 27; Campbell had 23; Sweetwater had 15; Converse had 14; Uinta had 13; Lincoln had 12; Big Horn had seven; Washakie and Weston had five; Crook and Sublette had four; Hot Springs and Johnson had two, and Platte had one.

According to Department of Health figures, 504 of the active cases involved people with laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus and 121 involved patients with probable cases.

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

The number of people with laboratory-confirmed cases on Wednesday went up by 37, with new cases reported in Albany, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Johnson, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton and Weston counties. 

The increase brought the total number of lab-confirmed cases seen since illness was first detected in Wyoming in March to 3,520.

The number of probable cases, where patients have coronavirus symptoms and have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, went up by 11 Wednesday to total 631 since the pandemic began.

Of the people infected with coronavirus since March, 3,484 have recovered, according to the Department of Health, including 2,974 with confirmed cases and 510 with probable cases.

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Gordon Keeps Existing Public Health Orders In Place

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon said he and other Wyoming officials want to be careful about easing the state’s current public health orders because they don’t want to find themselves in a position of having to reimpose restrictions later.

In a news conference Wednesday, Gordon and state Public Health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist provided updates on the coronavirus in Wyoming.

Gordon said he and other officials wanted to see how many cases pop up following the Labor Day weekend before taking the next step to further relax the state’s few remaining health orders designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Harrist noted there have been some cases of the coronavirus popping up in schools around the state, but no schools have had to close.

“This is an indicator of all of the efforts school administrators, staff, parents and students are putting in to ensuring safety while providing in-person education, which is so important for many children,” Harrist said.

She added that state health officials are seeing cases spring up from “preventable” situations, using an outbreak at the University of Wyoming as an example. Officials are blaming social gatherings in the university’s community for exposing more people to the virus.

Faced with 70 active coronavirus cases among university students and staff, University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel announced Wednesday that the university’s phased return plan for the fall semester would continue to be on a pause until at least Monday, partially to see how many cases pop up following the holiday weekend.

Harrist pointed out that some well-planned large gatherings have taken place without a hitch due to precautions put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Then, informal gatherings of participants after the events led to the spread,” she said.

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University of Wyoming Stays Closed For Five More Days After COVID Cases Increase

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming’s pause on efforts to resume in-person classes will continue until at least Monday, President Ed Seidel announced Wednesday afternoon.

According to a release from the university, the extension is necessary for UW leaders to analyze results from the university’s on-campus coronavirus testing program to understand the level of virus transmission over Labor Day weekend.

“While we continue to detect new cases — which is worrisome — the pause has enabled us to effectively slow the spread of the virus,” Seidel said in the release. “That provides some encouragement for our ability to resume our fall return plan, but only if what happened over Labor Day weekend does not result in a spike in cases.”

The pause last week was triggered by positive coronaivurs test results of seven students who were exhibiting symptoms of the infection Sept. 2.

As of Wednesday, the the number of active cases among the university community was 70; 14 students living on-campus, 53 students living off-campus and three employees living off-campus.

Around 130 other people, 23 on-campus and 107 off-campus, are in a two-week quarantine because they were in close contact with people who tested positive.

The total number of coronavirus cases among UW students and employees since the pandemic began is 141.

During the pause, details of which may be found here, the university is taking steps that include:

  • Instructing students in UW campus housing and others in Laramie to shelter in place;
  • Delivering all courses online;
  • Directing all employees, with the exception of those designated by supervisors as critical pause personnel, to work remotely, and
  • Suspending all face-to-face activities, unless approval is given through an exception process.

UW Residence Life and Dining Services is making arrangements for food service and activities for residence hall students during the pause. Students in the residence halls who have jobs or other off-campus responsibilities are being allowed to leave for those duties.

A little more than 1,000 students are currently in the residence halls and around 400 more are waiting until the end of the pause to come to campus.

“So far, the on-campus experience appears to be relatively safe, and we appreciate the adherence of our students in the residence halls to the pause restrictions,” Seidel said “Unfortunately, it appears that some of our students off-campus are not doing the same, based upon community observations and the relatively high number of cases among those students. If that situation doesn’t change, it seriously jeopardizes the opportunity to implement our full phased return plan for the fall semester.”

No on-campus visits to students, employees or researchers during the pause are being allowed. Most campus facilities are closed.

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58 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming; 610 Active

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

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming went back over 600 on Tuesday as the Wyoming Department of Health reported 58 new laboratory-confirmed cases in 14 counties.

The department, in its daily coronavirus update, said a total of 71 new confirmed and probable cases were reported Tuesday, while the number of recoveries diagnosed totaled only 35, setting the number of active cases in the state at 610.

Albany County had 98 active cases; Carbon had 76; Laramie had 73; Fremont had 58; Natrona had 53; Sheridan had 50; Park had 37; Goshen had 30; Teton had 29; Campbell had 25; Uinta had 19; Sweetwater had 13; Converse had 11; Lincoln had 10; Big Horn had nine; Washakie had five; Crook had four; Sublette and Weston had three; Hot Springs had two, and Johnson and Platte had one.

Niobrara County had no active cases.

The active cases were divided among 492 people with laboratory-confirmed cases and 118 people with probable cases.

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

Albany County, where the efforts to resume in-person classes at the University of Wyoming have been stalled by new coronavirus cases, saw the most new cases during the day, 18, to bring its total number seen since the coronavirus was first detected in Wyoming in March to 169.

Other counties with new cases were Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Goshen, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Sheridan, Sweetwater and Teton. The increase brought to 3,483 the number of confirmed cases reported since March.

The number of probable cases, cases where patients have coronavirus symptoms and have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case but have not been tested for the illness, went up by 13 Tuesday to total 620.

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