Health orders ease
State reports vaccine supplies are slowly increasing
February 18, 2021
Thanks to the improving situation across Wyoming, public health order changes that took effect this week have eased restrictions in several ways. This includes a loosening of pandemic-related rules for restaurants, gyms, indoor and outdoor events and organized sports.
The statewide mask mandate, however, will remain in place for the time being.
The new orders took effect on February 15 and run until February 28. They include an increase in the number of people who may sit together in a restaurant or theater from six to eight.
The limit of one person per 120 square feet has been removed from gyms, though patrons must still remain at least six feet apart. Indoor events may allow up to 25% of venue capacity with a maximum of 500 people instead of 250 people.
Outdoor events may allow up to 50% of venue capacity to a maximum of 1000 people, an increase from 500 people. For all events, group sizes have been increased from six to eight.
Participants in sporting events and artistic performances may not congregate in groups larger than 25, an increase from groups of 12.
“We are making good progress against this virus. Levels are returning to where they were before the dangerous spike in November and some counties have lifted restrictions. This is good news thanks to Wyoming’s people,” Governor Mark Gordon said in a press release.
“At the end of this month state wrestling, and shortly afterwards state basketball tournaments will happen. We want to ensure these events happen safely and successfully for the athletes, families and communities involved.”
“Our trends are encouraging and our vaccination effort is progressing smoothly. These orders allowing larger groups and more capacity will lift up small businesses, keep schools open and get us closer to normal.”
Gordon also announced that more than 11% of Wyoming’s population has now received at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19 and all long-term care facilities have had vaccine clinics for residents and staff. According to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), the state is seeing a slow but steady increase in the number of vaccines being shipped here.
“While overall available vaccine dose amounts remain low right now compared to high demand, we are seeing modest, continued increases in shipments we receive from the federal government of the authorized vaccines as well as more partners and providers coming on board,” said Angie Van Houten, Community Health Section chief, in a press release.
Last week saw the beginning of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program begin, with small quantities of doses now stored in Walmart stores in larger cities including Gillette and Casper. The superstore will be limiting appointments at this time to people over the age of 65 and eligible healthcare providers and first responders.
According to the WDH, all Wyoming counties are now working on Phase 1b priority groups and will likely not be vaccinating Phase 1c until later in the year.
At this time, the WDH reports that Wyoming has received 77,775 first vaccine doses, of which 70,003have been administered, and 39,700 second doses, of which 27,905 have been administered. Crook County has now administered 812 first and 102 second doses (not including the 60 of each dose administered directly to patients and staff of Crook County Medical Services District.)
The WDH is warning of scams involving the vaccine.
“We are hearing about unexpected calls going to residents from people falsely claiming they represent a local health department or the Wyoming Department of Health,” said Michael Ceballos, WDH director, in a press release. “The callers go on to request payment or personal details such as social security numbers.”
“We want to remind everyone that COVID-19 vaccines are free to those who are getting them and insurance is not required. No one should be asking you for payment to get a shot or to make an appointment. Vaccines are not typically being given in homes and there is no payment option to get ahead in line. Your social security number is not needed and should not be given over the phone to someone who calls you unexpectedly,” Ceballos said.
The new orders come at a time when Crook County became the second county in Wyoming in one week to report no active confirmed cases of the virus. On Wednesday, WDH statistics declared the county virus-free, following suit from Hot Springs’ announcement earlier in the week.
This status remained intact for the rest of the week, while Wyoming as a whole maintained an active case count below 1000 for the full seven days. This significant decline in cases was first recorded on February 6 and marked the first time infections had dropped below 1000 since September; the all-time high number of active cases was 11,861 at the end of November.
Hospitalizations rose slightly, however, from 32 on February 9 to a recorded 44 on February 12. As of February 7, no COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized in Crook County.
Low daily new cases throughout the week have partially been due to WDH data adjustments, which have seen declines in the number of cases recorded in certain counties. On Sunday, for example, 46 new cases were reported but 32 were removed through data adjustments, which causes the case count to only rise by 14.
A total of 15 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported during the last week, bringing Wyoming’s tally to 662.