The number of Wyoming counties untouched by the coronavirus shrunk to seven Thursday as the Wyoming Department of Health reported 13 new cases in seven counties, including the first case seen in Uinta County.
The increases in case counts raised the state’s total to 150 and only Big Horn, Crook, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Niobrara, Platte and Weston counties reported no cases.
The biggest increase Thursday was seen in Natrona County, where five new cases brought the total there to 19.
As of Thursday morning, Laramie County had 36 confirmed cases; Teton County had 29; Fremont County had 26; Natrona County had 19; Sheridan County had 10, Johnson County had eight; Campbell County had six; Albany, Carbon and Sweetwater counties had three cases, and Converse County had two. Goshen, Park, Sublette, Uinta and Washakie counties had one case each.
State officials have reported that 16 people have been hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms since the outbreak began.
Fremont County officials said Wednesday that at least five of its hospitalized patients are in critical condition and are breathing with the aid of a ventilator.
Dr. Brian Gee, the county’s health officer, said half of the state’s hospitalized patients are in Fremont County.
“And more than half of them are critically ill and on ventilators,” he said.
Fremont County has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. As of Wednesday, the Fremont County Incident Management Team reported that over the last 14 days, 608 people have been directed to self-isolate because they were showing signs of the illness.
Gee stressed that not all of the patients were older.
“The young are not immune,” he said. “Our county currently has three patients under 60 who are seriously or critically ill.”
In other developments:
Unemployment claims: Because of a quadrupling in the number of unemployment claims filed with the state Department of Workforce Services, the department’s Unemployment Insurance Division announced it has established a special schedule for the filing of claims. Robin Sessions Cooley, DWS director, announced Wednesday that for the time being, people filing claims whose last names begin with A through M should file on Mondays, Wednesdays or before noon on Friday. Those whose last names begin with N through Z are asked to file claims on Tuesdays, Thursdays or after noon on Fridays.
Reservation order: The governing body for the Wind River Indian Reservation has issued a “stay-at-home” order for tribal citizens. Under the order adopted Wednesday, Northern Arapaho or Eastern Shoshone citizens may leave their homes to obtain medical treatment, groceries or work in essential jobs.
Recovery: Park County’s lone coronavirus patient, a Cody health care worker, has fully recovered from the illness, according to the county’s health officer. The state Department of Health is reporting that across the state, 31 of the 150 people diagnosed with COVID-19 since the virus reached Wyoming have recovered. Full recovery is defined as occurring when a person is free of coronavirus symptoms for seven days.
Essential designation: Groups representing the state’s mineral production sector are urging Gov. Mark Gordon to declare coal, uranium, and oil and gas operations as essential activities in the state. According to the Petroleum Association of Wyoming and the Wyoming Mining Association, the designation is necessary because vendors will not ship supplies to producers without the designation. The designation will also allow production to continue if Gordon issues a “stay-at-home” order.
Digital convention: The Crook County Republican Party, faced with social distancing requirements that made an in-person meeting impossible, held its convention digitally. Chip Neiman, the chairman of the county party, said 44 of the county’s 48 delegates were able to attend the convention via “Zoom,” a video conferencing application.
“It actually went really well, it was pretty remarkable,” Neiman said. “I tell you, I’ve got a lot of respect for these folks in Crook County, they stepped up to the plate and dealt with a very difficult situation and they did it admirably.”
Making masks: People across Wyoming are lending a hand in the effort to both sew and print masks needed to protect health care workers from coronavirus.
In Worland, Brandon Yule said he is running his 3D printer round-the-clock to make masks for health care professionals and law enforcement officers in Washakie County.
In Powell, the owner of a fabric store said she is running out of elastic because Powell residents are buying it to make surgical masks and gowns for doctors and nurses. Resident Ginger Morrow, one of those making equipment, said Tuesday that she finished sewing her first batch of 20 cloth masks.
Newcastle High School science teacher Jim Stith is using the school’s 3D printers to make masks for the Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department.
Cheyenne Frontier Days: Officials with the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo say the coronavirus could disrupt plans for the 124th edition of the annual event. Tom Hirsig, the Frontier Days president and CEO, said the group will monitor the decisions of organizers of rodeos scheduled for May and June to determine whether Cheyenne should proceed with plans to hold the rodeo beginning July 17. In the meantime, the rodeo has canceled April advertising for ticket sales.
Free golf: Cody’s Olive Glenn Golf Course opened its course to free use for a week to encourage people to get outside and exercise during the coronavirus outbreak. “Everyone has been all cooped up and getting cabin fever from the long winter here in Wyoming,” said course professional Matt Gibbens.
Curling canceled: USA Curling has canceled its 2020 Arena National Championships, which were to be held in Gillette in late April and early May. However, USA Curling has announced it will hold its 2022 championships in Gillette.