Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Midwest region becomes latest pandemic hotspot

Four fifths of county cases recorded since beginning of September

The pandemic has continued to worsen in Wyoming over the last week – as well as across most of the Midwest. This region is now one of the most significant hotspots on the planet for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crook County recorded its most new confirmed cases in a single week, on three occasions in greater daily numbers than at any time before. Of the 21 new confirmed cases that have been added to Crook County’s tally, six were listed on Thursday and five each on Friday and Tuesday.

Sunday was the only day when no new cases were recorded. Crook County’s overall count of COVID-19 cases now stands at 78 confirmed and ten probable. The majority of the confirmed cases have been identified since the beginning of September.

Before that time, the county had only experienced 14 confirmed and no probable cases. Since that time, it is believed that community spread has been present within the community.

The minor outbreak ongoing in this area mirrors the greater number of infections being reported across the Midwest. Reports from Reuters suggest the Midwest has become the most recent hotspot for the novel coronavirus, with a surge in infections and hospitalizations across the region.

Since the beginning of October, according to that news agency, North Dakota and South Dakota have reported more new cases per capita than all but one other place in the world: the tiny principality of Andorra in Europe.

Wyoming is also seeing a continued surge in infections. Daily numbers remain high, breaking the state record twice with 248 new confirmed cases in a single day on Friday, then 251 on Monday.

Though high numbers of patients are being marked as recovered each day, these numbers have not succeeded in outpacing new infections. From July to September, the number of active cases in Wyoming hovered around the 600 mark; by Tuesday, the figure had reached 2521 after increasing every day over the last week.

Growing numbers of new cases prompted Governor Mark Gordon to last week activate the Wyoming National Guard to assist with contact tracing, a temporary solution while additional contact tracing resources are put in place. The intent is to support the Wyoming Department of Health and individual counties, which were experiencing issues in keeping up with the need to trace exposures and alert those who may have been exposed.

This week, the governor has issued a statement to clarify that the agreement between the National Guard and Department of Health does not include any enforcement activities whatsoever.

“Contact tracing is a significant undertaking given the level of spread of COVID-19 right now. The Guard was selected to assist because they have qualified, well-trained individuals who could provide immediate assistance,” said Gordon.

“The Department of Health is evaluating other long-term solutions that do not involve the Guard, but would allow them to keep up with demand.” 

Hospitalizations within Wyoming also continue to climb. On Monday, a total of 67 people were hospitalized in the state – a number that’s three times the record in the early days of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations began to rise again in September, but did not surpass the record of 23 set on April 20 and 21 until the latter part of the month. The numbers then took a huge jump at the beginning of October and appear to still be increasing.

Four new deaths have been recorded this week in Park, Fremont, Johnson and Albany Counties, all of them announced on Tuesday. Only two were listed as older adults and, of the younger two, one had not been hospitalized.

In two cases, the patients were known to have prior conditions putting them at higher risk of serious illness. In the remaining two, including the man who had not been hospitalized, the Department of Health reports that is unclear whether this was the case.