Compiled from Wyoming News Exchange newspapers 

Wyoming records second coronavirus death


April 9, 2020

Wyoming reported its second death attributed to coronavirus on Wednesday.

The state Department of Health, in a news release, announced that the victim was an older Laramie County man who had been hospitalized for the treatment of coronavirus.

“Unfortunately, we have seen this disease touch another Wyoming family in the worst way,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state health officer.

The state’s first death blamed on coronavirus occurred last week in Johnson County. That case also involved an older man.

“While anyone can get sick and has a chance of a serious illness with COVID-19, we do know those who are aged 65 and older and people who have certain medical complications are more likely to experience complications and become severely ill,” Harrist said in the news release.

Wyoming was the last state to see a death caused by the disease.

The death came in the wake of the release of an updated computer model that predicted the number of deaths and strain on Wyoming’s hospitals will be much lower than what had been estimated a week ago.

An updated computer model from the University of Washington predicts that 34 people will die in Wyoming from the coronavirus by May 23, a dramatic reduction from a prediction of 119 made last week.

The model also said that by the time the demand for intensive care unit beds peaks on May 4, the state’s hospitals will not be overwhelmed. The model showed that at the most, the state will need 14 intensive care unit beds and 44 exist around Wyoming.

For hospital beds in general, the model predicts a peak need of 60 for treatment of the coronavirus on May 5. The model said the state has 1,069 beds available.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases was set at 287 on Wednesday morning.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said the number of cases went up by five from Tuesday, while the number of people to have recovered from the illness since it surfaced in Wyoming in late February grew by 24 to total 164 on Tuesday.

That means more than more than 58 percent of those diagnosed with the illness have recovered.

Full recovery is defined as occurring when a patient shows no symptoms of coronavirus for three days and has taken no medication for fever reduction.

The Health Department said new coronavirus cases were reported Wednesday in Crook, Laramie, Sweetwater and Teton counties.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Laramie County had 64 cases; Teton County had 58; Fremont County had 42; Natrona County had 34; Campbell County had 13; Sheridan had 12; Johnson had 11; Sweetwater had 10; Converse had eight; Albany, Lincoln and Washakie had five; Carbon, Crook and and Uinta had four, and Goshen had three. Big Horn, Hot Springs, Niobrara, Park and Sublette counties had one case each.

In other developments:

CDC assistance: The Department of Health announced Tuesday that a “community protection initiative” team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the state to help the state slow and limit the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state health officer, said she invited the team after the CDC expressed an interest in sending some staff to help areas with relatively low levels of coronavirus contamination. “The idea is to help maintain lower levels of illness in locations that haven’t yet been overcome as in other areas of the country,” she said.

Eviction halt: A number of nonprofit advocacy groups are calling on the state government to suspend rent and mortgage payments in the face of economic hardship caused by the coronavirus. The move would give Wyoming residents time to receive payments from the federal coronavirus relief program, the groups argue. Twenty nonprofit organizations have written a letter to Gov. Mark Gordon and Auditor Kristi Racines asking for the mortgage and rent relief.

Hathaway eligibility: The state Department of Education announced it has found a way to continue eligibility for Hathaway Scholarships for college students who had to drop courses due the coronavirus. The department announced it will grant an “exception for cause” for all students who do not meet satisfactory academic progress to keep the scholarships because of courses dropped on or after March 13.

Revenue drop: Wyoming’s tax revenues for the next two years could drop below projections made in January by up to $2.8 billion, according to an analysis by a state agency. The Legislative Service Office, the agency that provides administrative duties for the Legislature, said almost all of the state’s taxes will drop because of the economic slowdown and an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. The analysis said under the best case scenario, Wyoming’s tax income would fall by $555.8 million between now and the end of the next biennium in June of 2022. Under the worst-case scenario, the decline is estimated at almost $2.8 billion.

No citations: Casper’s City Council on Tuesday rejected a proposal to allow city police to issue citations to those who violate the state’s public health orders. Council members opposing the move said they disagreed with fines and arrests as a way to enforce the state’s health orders. Cheyenne council members rejected a similar ordinance Monday.

Carbon XPrize: The $20 million Carbon XPrize competition being held at Campbell County’s Integrated Test Center is on hold until restrictions are lifted with the end of the coronavirus. Finalists in the contest to develop technologies to turn carbon dioxide into usable products are from around the globe and cannot travel to America. In addition, the ITC is locked down because its location, the Dry Fork Station power plant near Gillette, is generating power, and officials do not want to risk the spread of coronavirus to the plant’s workers.

Business grants: Cheyenne’s Downtown Development Authority is working with banks to provide emergency assistance grants for small businesses in Cheyenne’s downtown. Since launching at the end of March, the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program has given $48,828 to 26 small businesses.

Celebration canceled: Organizers of the annual “Flaming Gorge Days” celebration in Green River canceled the 2020 event, which was scheduled to be held June 25-27. Event officials said the event requires several months of preparation which cannot happen given restrictions imposed by the state’s health orders.


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