Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Health orders loosen again

The health orders affecting Wyomingites have been eased again this week to reflect an improvement in the COVID-19 situation since they were tightened in early December. The new orders increase the number of people who may attend indoor and outdoor gatherings.

As of January 26, indoor gatherings that incorporate social distancing and face coverings are permitted for up to 25% of capacity or 250 persons, and outdoor gatherings may include up to 500 attendees.

“Wyoming is making progress and coming closer to safely returning to more normal lives, and the steps we have taken are helping us achieve this,” said Governor Mark Gordon in the announcement.

“I am confident that as our vaccination rate increases, the data-driven approach we are taking and our improving circumstances will give us more opportunity to further relax our orders.”

New Variants

However, health officials do remain concerned about the new, more transmissible “UK variant” of COVID-19 that was identified as being present in a Teton County patient last week. Currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are believed to be effective against the UK variant strain.

Though studies have suggested the UK variant spreads between 30 and 70% faster than other strains, it was not initially believed to cause more serious illness. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at the weekend that early evidence from mathematical studies suggests there is a possibility it causes a higher level of mortality.

While there is said to be a realistic possibility the virus has become more deadly, scientists have warned that the data to support the theory is not yet considered strong and studies are very much ongoing.

Face Coverings

The requirement for face coverings in certain public places has not been eased in the current iteration of state orders. This order has been continued and is expected to remain in effect until February 14.

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 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 Stats

Crook County has experienced another light week of new COVID-19 cases, with just four new confirmed cases bringing the local total to 375 by Tuesday. Three more probable cases were also identified this week, increasing the total to 34.

However, another death in Crook County due to the virus was announced this week. The older adult male died in December having been hospitalized in another state; he had health conditions recognized as putting patients at higher risk of serious illness.

The death was among 21 reported on Friday and 25 on Tuesday, including 14 long-term care residents and 37 considered at-risk due to existing health conditions. A total of 596 people have now died due to COVID-19 in Wyoming; ten of those deaths occurred in Crook County.

Hospitalizations across Wyoming continue to plummet, falling from 81 on January 21 to 71 on January 26. This compares to a peak of 247 on November 30. Crook County Memorial Hospital has had no COVID-19 inpatients since January 21.

Active cases in this state have also experienced a drop, standing at 1483 on Monday. As of that date, Crook County had just four active confirmed cases and three active probable cases, while Niobrara County was announced to be the first county in Wyoming to be COVID-free since October.