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Faced With Surge in Coronavirus Cases, Gordon Renews Call For Use of Masks, Social Distancing

in Coronavirus/News
5108

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Faced with new growth in the number of coronavirus cases in Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon on Wednesday renewed his call for Wyoming residents to take the steps they can to prevent the spread of the illness.

Gordon, during a news conference, noted that the state saw its total number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 27.7% in the last two weeks, with the majority of the new cases coming from seven counties.

As a result, he said, Wyoming residents must continue to observe social distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of face masks when it is not practical or possible for people to remain separated from each other.

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Gordon noted that in a number of other states, a reopening of businesses has led to increases in case numbers and resulting deaths that have prompted other governors to reimpose some of the restrictions that had been in place, such as ordering bars and restaurants to close.

“This is something we don’t want to do,” he said. “So it really does depend on the people of this state to exercise good judgment and do the right thing.”

As recently as two weeks ago, officials had been hopeful that they could lift all remaining restrictions designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as orders limiting the size of groups indoors to no more than 50 and outdoors to no more than 250.

With the increase in case numbers and corresponding increase in the number of active cases, officials agreed such a change would not be wise, he said.

“We were successful because people were adhering to the right kinds of protocols and now we’re being less careful and that is bringing consequences,” he said.

If case numbers grow too quickly, the state will have to reimpose some of its restrictions on businesses, Gordon said.

“I know some people will give us the victory signal one finger at a time” if such rules are put back in place, he said.

Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said despite the rise in cases, the state’s residents should be able to enjoy their Fourth of July holiday if they take the proper precautions.

“It’s possible to have fun while taking part in these activities responsibly,” Harrist said.

Harrist also said she is reviewing a request from Teton County to make the wearing of face masks a requirement inside buildings.

Officials in Teton County, where several new cases have been diagnosed in recent weeks, are seeking the order because of the number of tourists in Jackson who are not observing requests to wear masks.

Gordon also announced state residents can use, at no cost, a mobile app designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus by letting users track who they come in contact with.

The information from the Care19 Diary app will then be used for “contact tracing” to determine who might have been exposed to the illness. Gordon said the app is available from both the Google and Apple app stores.

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Black Hills Energy Gives Back to Wyoming Communities

in Energy/News
5118

Black Hills Energy is much more than an energy company. The company believes in investing in local economies, helping families in need, and supporting the communities employees work and live in. 

In 2019, the direct economic impact of Black Hills Energy in Wyoming totaled $144 million. This included compensation for employees, charitable giving, payments to suppliers, and property, sales and use taxes paid to communities.

As part of this, charitable impact totaled $345 thousand dollars, including financial support for nonprofits, economic development, low-income energy assistance, investments in trees, and support for United Ways – all making a positive impact in the hometowns of employees and customers in Wyoming.

Giving back is more than just writing checks. Black Hills Energy also supported communities in 2019 in other ways, including:

  • More than 2,400 customers participated in energy efficiency programs; saving energy costs.
  • More than 65 families received energy assistance funds as part of the Black Hills Cares program.
  • More than 50 community organizations benefitted from volunteer time shared by 40 employees.
  • Over 25 first responders learned emergency response techniques around natural gas and electrical lines.

“At Black Hills Energy we believe strong communities help make for strong companies. If our communities are not strong, we won’t be either,” said Linn Evans, president and chief executive officer at Black Hills Energy. “Our hearts go out to all those impacted by COVID-19, whether physically or economically. In addition to our community impact initiatives, as the pandemic became a reality in our hometowns this spring, we partnered with our communities to help fill basic needs by designating $375,000 for immediate relief efforts. And, we stand ready to partner with our communities as they emerge from the impact of coronavirus.”

“Seeing our company and its employees give back to so many communities and organizations, exhibits the Black Hills Energy’s culture at its finest, and it is something I am glad to represent every day,” said Mark Stege, Wyoming’s vice president of operations.

To learn more about all the ways Black Hills Energy is supporting communities please visit:     www.blackhillsenergy.com/community and click on the Community section. 

About Black Hills Energy

Black Hills Corp. (NYSE: BKH) is a customer focused, growth-oriented utility company with a tradition of improving life with energy and a vision to be the energy partner of choice. Based in Rapid City, South Dakota, the company serves 1.28 million natural gas and electric utility customers in eight states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. More information is available at www.blackhillscorp.com and www.blackhillsenergy.com.

Liz Cheney: U.S. Won’t Tolerate Targeting Of Forces

in Liz Cheney/News
5106

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The United States will not tolerate the targeting of its forces by any foreign power, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said Tuesday.

Cheney, speaking during a press briefing in Washington, D.C., said any foreign power planning harm to American forces should be ready for significant consequences.

“I want to be absolutely clear, America’s adversaries should know, they should have no doubt that any targeting of U.S. forces by Russians, by anyone else will face a very swift and deadly response,” she said.

Cheney’s comments followed a White House briefing on reports that Russia was offering bounties to members of the Taliban who killed American soldiers in Afghanistan.

After the briefing, Cheney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a joint statement with U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, saying they were concerned about Russian activities in Afghanistan.

“It has been clear for some time that Russia does not wish us well in Afghanistan,” the statement said. “We believe it is important to vigorously pursue any information related to Russia or any other country targeting our forces. Congress has no more important obligation than providing for the security of our nation and ensuring our forces have the resources they need.”

During the press briefing, Cheney declined to discuss the specifics of what was discussed in the White House briefing.

However, she said that any force targeting U.S. forces should not underestimate the level of response.

“America’s adversaries should never question the will of the United States government or of the American people to defend our interests, to protect the security of our nation, to protect our forces and to respond when attacked or threatened,” she said.

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John Barrasso: “I Wear A Mask And Others Should As Well”

in Coronavirus/News
5103

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U.S. Sen. John Barrasso doesn’t think shutting down the economy again due to a resurgence in cases of coronavirus is the right idea but he does think people should follow established guidelines to prevent the spread of the illness, such as the wearing of masks in public places.

Barrasso, appearing on FOX News on Tuesday, said he hoped wearing masks hasn’t become a political issue. He added individuals can wear masks and be supportive of President Trump at the same time.

“I am for President Trump and I wear a mask. As do members of my staff and family,” Barrasso said. “It is an important thing to do protect ourselves and a responsible thing to do to help protect others.”

Barrasso, a physician, said people need to follow the basics including: proper hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks.

“I wear a mask and I think others should as well,” he said.

However, Barrasso said calling on law enforcement to step in when citizens aren’t following health guidelines isn’t the right answer.

“What do you do with the individual who is not following guidelines and not doing the thing that is responsible?” Barrasso asked. “It is difficult to try to enforce something like wearing a mask.”

The senator said if people were to “get back to basics” and follow health guidelines, the U.S. would be in a better position.

“If people were actually following those guidelines, the numbers would be much lower than they are right now,” he said.

“As a doctor, the basics are: proper hygiene, distancing, and wearing masks. I think it is important,” Barrasso said.

The senator brushed off the idea of additional shutdowns, saying the toll on the economy and on the health of individuals would be too high.

“We know that when people can’t go to work and there is higher unemployment, there are issues related to abuse of substances and spouse and children.  All of these things which can lead to bad health impacts as well,” he said.

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Wyoming State Park Camping Reservations Sold Out For 4th Weekend

in News/Tourism
5101

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Due to the continued high demand for outdoor recreation, persons looking to camp at a Wyoming State Park during the Fourth of July weekend should be aware campsite reservations throughout the state park system are sold out; however, we welcome the public to come out for the day, enjoy a picnic and recreate.

These state parks – Boysen, Buffalo Bill, Curt Gowdy, Glendo, Guernsey, Keyhole, Medicine Lodge, Seminoe and Sinks Canyon – currently have no campsites available for this holiday weekend. Hawk Springs remains first-come, first-serve and is at capacity also.

“With the 4th landing on a Saturday, we expected our camping system to be full,” Deputy Director Nick Neylon said. “The team has been working hard to get facilities ready for our visitors.”

Currently, Glendo and Guernsey both have campfire restrictions. Propane grills and stoves and charcoal grills can still be used to prepare popular camping dishes and provide adequate warmth.

These grills must have covers/lids and be within an arm’s length when lit. A variety of other imaginative ideas can help preserve the camping experience such as solar lights in the firepit.

Recreationists are reminded that possession of fireworks is prohibited at all Wyoming State Parks.

“Having full state parks is a great problem to have, however, it can come with challenges, especially during this pandemic,” said Director Darin Westby, “We implore that you help us keep the parks open by recreating responsibly as requested in our rules and the guidelines and protocols issued by the State Health Officer and the CDC”

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19 New Coronavirus Cases Confirmed In Seven Counties

in Coronavirus/News
5115

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19 new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in seven counties on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases seen since the illness was first diagnosed in the state to 1,203.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said 19 new cases were reported in Fremont, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Platte and Teton counties.

The increase marks the eleventh consecutive day of double-digit increases in confirmed case numbers. Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said during a news conference Wednesday that the increase could not be tracked to any one event.

“It is really a combination of factors,” she said. “I will say that gatherings at bars and restaurants is one of those factors. Keeping social distancing in those environments remains critical.”

Since the coronavirus was first reported in Wyoming, Fremont County has seen 319 cases; Laramie County had 175 cases; Uinta County had 140 cases; Natrona County had 105 cases; Teton County had 98 cases; Sweetwater had 80; Park had 49; Campbell had 43; Washakie had 34; Albany had 31; Lincoln and Sheridan had 19; Big Horn had 17; Converse and Johnson had 16; Carbon had 13; Hot Springs had nine; Crook had seven; Goshen had four; Platte and Sublette had three; Weston had two, and Niobrara had one.

The Department of Health’s total case figures account for all cases seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming. They do not take into account the recoveries.

The number of probable cases in Wyoming since the pandemic began was set at 311 on Wednesday. A probable case is one where a patient shows symptoms of coronavirus and has been in contact with a person with a confirmed case, but has not been tested.

Of the total of 1,514 patients seen since the coronavirus was first detected, 1,119 have recovered, the Health Department said, including 877 patients with confirmed cases and 242 with probable cases.

The number of active cases in the state, meanwhile, was set at 377 on Wednesday. They included 308 patients with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases and 69 with probable cases.

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33 New Coronavirus Cases Record in Wyoming; 11 in Park County

in Coronavirus/News
5097

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

New confirmed coronavirus cases were detected in nine counties on Tuesday, pushing the total number of confirmed cases seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming to 1,184.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said a total of 33 new cases were reported in Big Horn, Campbell, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Sheridan, Sweetwater and Teton counties.

Park County’s total increased by 11 on Tuesday to total 44.

The Health Department’s total case numbers reflect all cases detected since the pandemic reached Wyoming and do not take into account the patients who have recovered. 

As of Tuesday, Fremont County had recorded 316 confirmed cases since the pandemic began; Laramie County had 168; Uinta County had 140; Natrona County had 103; Teton County had 97; Sweetwater County had 81; Park had 44; Campbell had 43; Washakie had 34; Albany had 31; Sheridan had 19; Lincoln had 18; Big Horn had 17; Converse and Johnson had 16; Carbon had 13; Hot Springs had nine; Crook had seven; Goshen had four; Sublette had three; Platte and Weston had two, and Niobrara had one. 

The state also recorded 27 recoveries during the day, bringing the total number of recoveries among patients with laboratory confirmed coronavirus cases to 860 and the total number of recoveries among patients with probable cases to 237.

A probable case is defined as one where the patient shows symptoms of coronavirus and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness. As of Tuesday, the number of probable case seen since mid-March was 303.

The numbers brought the number of active coronavirus cases in the state to 372, including 306 patients with confirmed cases and 66 with probable cases.

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Jackson Town Council Passes Resolution Requiring Face Coverings In Public

in Coronavirus/News
5093

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Jackson Town Council has passed a new resolution in support of a health order that would require people to wear face coverings in public places.

As of Monday, Teton County had 95 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but health officials are expecting the number to increase daily, with cases surging in Wyoming and all over the country.

The council had a special meeting on Monday to discuss the resolution to support Dr. Travis Riddell, Teton County’s health officer, in his plan to ask the state for a health order requiring the use of face masks. The discussion lasted around an hour.

A number of Teton County residents used the public comment period to give the council their opinions on the resolution. Many came out in support of the resolution, offering up information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends wearing face coverings to help slow the spread of the virus.

Some of the comments came from county business owners, many of whom already were requiring customers of their stores to wear face coverings. One man told the council that he has around 15 to 20 negative encounters a day with people who refuse to wear a mask.

The resolution noted that an influx of people who come into the county’s health care systems could compromise the ability of staff to deliver the necessary care to the public.

Since Teton County is a major tourist destination in the Rocky Mountain region, the council felt it was appropriate to require everyone to wear masks in public gatherings.

“Teton County Hospital District routinely serves patients not only from within Teton County but also many tourists and residents from Lincoln County, WY, Sublette County, WY, Fremont County, WY and parts of Eastern Idaho who will further stress its capacity, making it critical that Teton County take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 infection so as not to overwhelm the local healthcare system in such a way that would result in many preventable deaths,” the resolution said.

The council was unanimous in its vote to pass the resolution.

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Face Coverings Required for UW Employees, Students This Summer

in Coronavirus/News
5090

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University of Wyoming employees and students are required to wear face coverings while on UW-owned property or when conducting university business or activities, including instruction and research.

This requirement is in place immediately and also is part of the university’s plan for the fall semester to mitigate spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

“Given its highly contagious nature and the unpredictability of how it will affect any given individual, it is imperative that we, as a community, treat it as the public health crisis that it is and take simple precautions to protect our families, our neighbors and ourselves,” said College of Health Sciences Dean David Jones, who leads a UW team addressing campus questions on COVID-19. 

“The university’s decision to implement a mask/facial covering policy was not made out of fear; it was made out of a sense of commitment to slowing and decreasing the spread of a highly contagious virus. The more consistently we wear masks in public spaces in the community, the sooner we will get to a point where we will no longer need to wear them.”

One exception to the policy on face coverings is that people alone in closed-door offices — or in their residence hall rooms — don’t have to wear them at those times. Additionally, while UW’s current policy for the fall semester — approved by the Board of Trustees — is that visitors to campus are encouraged but not required to wear masks, the issue may be discussed further by the board in July.

The university will require and provide face coverings for all employees and students this fall — those coverings have been ordered, and some units already have secured masks and other types of protection for their employees — but not all units are able to provide them at this point. So, employees and students on campus this summer may need to wear their own personal face protection.

The university is developing a COVID-19 policy that will outline the rule on face coverings as well as other guidelines, including physical distancing and what to do if you develop symptoms that might indicate coronavirus infection. It also will lay out consequences for violation of the policy, including disciplinary action through the Student Code of Conduct, for students, and the employee handbook, for faculty and staff members.

Additionally, UW’s Office of Academic Affairs is drafting a behavioral expectation addition to the syllabus, giving faculty members the ability to remove students from the classroom for violation of the COVID-19 policy.

“It has been widely shown that communities that adopted masks early on have experienced a lower health impact as it relates to spread of the COVID-19 virus,” says incoming President Ed Seidel. “The wearing of masks and other practices help prevent us from transmitting the virus to others and provide some degree of protection to ourselves, as well.”

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Elderly Woman Gored By Bison In Yellowstone

in News/Yellowstone
5084

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This the Bull Buffalo that attacked the lady the Ranger said his actions were showing he was pissed and his dominant actions toward the lady he was still trying to get to when they roll in the dirt and bob there head and dig at the ground and of course she invaded and got to close!! So stupid they life flighted her once it was safe and they kept the buffalo away the fire trucks were called as well as multiple rangers on standby with semi auto 12 gauge ready for anything

Posted by Tecia Stroh Hubble on Sunday, June 28, 2020

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An elderly California woman was injured last week when she was gored by a bison she was attempting to photograph.

According to a news release from the National Park Service, the woman approached within 10 feet of a bison multiple times to take the bison’s photo. After she kept approaching, the animal gored her.

The incident happened on Thursday evening at the woman’s campsite at Bridge Bay Campground. Ranger provided immediate medical care to the woman, who sustained multiple goring wounds.

The woman was then flown via helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

“The series of events that led to the goring suggest the bison was threatened by being repeatedly approached to within 10 feet,” said Yellowstone’s Senior Bison Biologist Chris Geremia in the release. “Bison are wild animals that respond to threats by displaying aggressive behaviors like pawing the ground, snorting, bobbing their head, bellowing, and raising their tail. If that doesn’t make the threat (in this instance it was a person) move away, a threatened bison may charge. To be safe around bison, stay at least 25 yards away, move away if they approach, and run away or find cover if they charge.” 

The park staff reminded visitors that the wildlife in Yellowstone are wild and when an animal is near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot or any other developed area, give it space.

It’s also recommended to stay more than 25 yards away from all large animals including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, moose and coyotes. People should stay at least 100 yards away from bears or wolves.

The incident is under investigation.

This incident comes about a week after a Missouri woman encountered a bear in the park and was knocked down by it.

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