Wyoming Confirms First Coronavirus Death

A Johnson County man infected with the coronavirus has died, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. It is Wyoming’s first COVID-19 death.  Wyoming Department of Health described the hospitalized patient as an “older man” with…

by | Apr 13, 2020 | COVID-19, Health, News

A Johnson County man infected with the coronavirus has died, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. It is Wyoming’s first COVID-19 death. 

Wyoming Department of Health described the hospitalized patient as an “older man” with health issues “that put him at higher risk of severe illness and complications related to COVID-19.” 

“This is a sad development we hoped we wouldn’t see in Wyoming and we want this person’s family to know they have our sympathy,” Dr. Alexia Harrist, Wyoming state health officer, said in a statement. “The advice we’ve been offering and actions we’ve taken ultimately come down to preventing as many serious illnesses and deaths connected to this disease as we can.”

While older people and those who are immunocompromised are at a greater risk of severe illness from the new coronavirus, Harrist pointed out that anyone who is infected can become seriously ill. She urged folks to follow the state’s health orders that “encourage people to stay home as much as possible.” 

Statewide closures of schools, most daycares and nonessential businesses are in effect until the end of April. And Gov. Mark Gordon has directed all people that leave Wyoming and come back to quarantine for 14 days. 

The governor echoed Harrist about the need to follow such orders. “This one was close to home and sadly serves as a grim reminder of the importance of following public health orders and guidance so we can reduce the number of serious illnesses and deaths in our state,” Gordon said in a statement. 

Wyoming, with 275 confirmed and 98 probable cases of COVID-19, is among a handful of states that has not enacted a shelter-in-place measure. The state’s per capita infection rate is 47.5 cases per 100,000 people. That’s roughly the same rate as Texas and it is higher than Alaska, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Arkansas, Oregon, West Virginia and Hawaii. 

In Teton County, with the highest per capita infection rate in the state (238.6 cases per 100,000 people), there are 56 confirmed and 26 probable cases. For comparison, Laramie County, leading the state with 60 confirmed cases, has a per capita infection rate of 60.3 cases per 100,000 people.

A countywide stay-at-home measure is in effect until April 17. Health officials urge those who must go out in public for an “essential activity,” such as grocery shopping, to cover their mouths with a cloth mask to prevent asymptomatic people from spreading the coronavirus to others.

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn launched KHOL's news department. She has worked as a reporter and editor in Wyoming for the last decade and her work has aired on NPR stations throughout the West. When she's not sweating deadlines, Robyn sustains her nomadic heart by traveling the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow @TheNomadicHeart

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