Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

COVID-19: state orders set to relax

Mask mandate stays in place through January


January 7, 2021

Over the month of December, hospitalizations in Wyoming due to the COVID-19 virus dropped by more than half, prompting Governor Mark Gordon to announce that restrictions on hours of service in bars and restaurants will be dropped. A health order requiring the use of face coverings in most public places will, however, remain in place for the time being.

“Thank you to the people of Wyoming who recognized the strain on their hospitals and health care workers and acted accordingly,” Gordon said in a press release.

“I also want to express my gratitude to those businesses that adapted to these temporary measures. These have not been easy times for anyone. We are not out of the woods yet, but continued personal safety measures while the vaccine is being distributed will enable our state’s schools and businesses to continue to remain open.”

Effective on January 9, the new state orders mean that businesses will now be allowed to resume onsite consumption of food and beverages from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., while gyms can increase the number of participants in group classes to 25.

The state mandate for citizens to wear face coverings in most public places will remain in place for the time being. Originally set to expire on January 8, the order has been continued until January 25.

The mask order requires face coverings over the nose and mouth while in a public place and in certain situations: inside or in line to enter a business or government facility (excluding federal buildings); at any healthcare operation; and while waiting for or using public transportation, a taxi or a private car service.

Businesses are required to post notices in a clearly visible location near the entrance stating that face coverings are required. Employees of businesses and government facilities must wear face coverings while within six feet of other people or in a space that could be visited by members of the public, such as restrooms and hallways.

Ongoing Metrics

The state continues to keep an eye on the metrics, particularly after many citizens gathered in groups to celebrate the holidays. While the number of new infections has stayed at a lower rate over the last week (with a high of 302 on January 4) and hospitalization rates continue to decline, the number of deaths in December was at its highest rate since the pandemic began.

Hospitalizations have halved, with the state reporting just 114 people in hospital due to COVID-19 on January 4. This compares to the peak of 247 on November 30.

In Crook County, no hospitalizations were reported from December 21 until January 5, when one person was hospitalized. Only four confirmed and two probable cases have been recorded over the last week.

However, 223 people died in this state during the month of December. Not only is this the highest number of deaths recorded during any one month of the pandemic, it represents just under half Wyoming’s total number of COVID-19 deaths.

The December total includes 33 more deaths reported on December 31, which included 24 people with pre-existing conditions known to increase the risk of serious illness and 16 long-term care residents.

The announcement also added another death to the tally in Crook County; the older adult woman was a long-term care facility with known health conditions and is reported to have died earlier in December. This brings the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in this county to seven.

So far in January, 26 deaths have been reported, including ten long-term care residents and 18 with pre-existing conditions. As of Tuesday, the total number of deaths in Wyoming sits at 464.

Vaccination Program

The vaccine program continues in Wyoming, following a phased approach due to the limited number of available doses. To date, a total of 25,775 vaccine doses have been received in this state.

Of these doses, the state reported on Tuesday that a total of 8928 have been administered. Subject to availability, Crook County is tentatively scheduled to receive 100 more doses of the Moderna vaccine each week throughout January for a total of 400.

Wyoming is still in the first phase of its distribution phase, which includes groups including healthcare workers involved in direct patient care and long-term care residents.

According to the Wyoming Department of Health, a targeted effort involving pharmacy chains is planned for this month to help vaccinate residents of many nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The next phase of the program will see priorities move to persons over the age of 70 and frontline essential workers who must interact with the public and are unable to consistently physically distance from others.

“I’m excited about recommending these vaccines and know many people are anxious to receive them, but this is a process with many steps and most of us will need to be patient until it’s our turn,” said state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist.

“For now and for some months to come, we all need to continue wearing masks, social distancing and staying home when we are ill as we take steps toward ending this pandemic and getting things back to normal.”

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be administered in two separate doses. There is currently no cost associated with receiving a vaccination.


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