COVID-19

University of Wyoming, University of Colorado Boulder


As the FDA considers the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine this week, figures around the U.S., including here in Wyoming, are calling into question the vaccine and the approval process it's going through.

Olivia Weitz


Every year, fifth grade elementary school students from Teton County and students from across the nation spend an entire weekend at Teton Science Schools' Kelly Campus in Grand Teton National Park where they bond with their classmates and learn about wildlife. But, due to the pandemic, overnight programs for local and out of state students were canceled.

In fact, an estimated 30 percent of outdoor education organizations nationwide will be forced to shut their doors by the end of the year. That's according to a survey funded by the National Science Foundation. Teton Science Schools is staying open, but it's required some big changes, especially for its field education branch.

Sam Beebe via CC BY 2.0

Washakie County School District #1 in Worland is having a substitute shortage. But that's nothing new.

"It's always an issue. Most of the time we do pretty well, this year, the problems have been exacerbated primarily because we're having more staff out for longer periods of time due to quarantines," said Jack Stott, the district's business manager.

The U.S. hit a horrific milestone this week: More than 3,000 COVID-19 fatalities in just one day. But rising deaths do not necessarily translate into rising concern.


New Mexico and Colorado put limitations in place back in the spring and summer, respectively. And Nevada recently tightened its capacity restrictions even further to 25%. 

Anti-mask and anti-lockdown protesters are targeting public health officials and politicians in parts of the Mountain West – sometimes at their own homes.


Public Domain

Some residents in Campbell County are voicing their anger over the state's new mask mandate and other health orders.

Campbell County commissioners held a special meeting on Thursday to discuss Gov. Mark Gordon's recent updates to health restrictions, including a statewide mask order.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming plans to start the spring semester classes on January 21. In-person instruction will begin on January 25, with plans to move completely to online classes after a short spring break in April.

In April, Google and Apple launched software that state health authorities can use to build COVID-19 contact tracing apps. But fewer than half of U.S. states have taken advantage, and most people living in those states aren't putting the apps to use.

In the Mountain West, Colorado's Exposure Notifications app has had the most success, with about 20% of the state's population having downloaded it. But fewer than 3% of Wyoming and Nevada residents have downloaded their states' smartphone apps.

Civic Theater Group

The Civic Theater Guild in Sheridan is putting on a virtual holiday performance.

The theater group will put on a version of the classic, "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," but instead of an in-person performance, they've adapted the show to be an actual broadcast.

Wyoming Arts Council

The pandemic has impacted all corners of the economy including the arts. Those in the art world have lost out on gallery openings, ticket sales for in-person events, and both corporate and philanthropic giving.

Sue Reynolds

Since August of 2019, there has been a 200 percent increase in teachers, administrators, and the public utilizing a free web service called Everyday Native. It's an online resource that aims to provide educational material.

https://www.nursetogether.com

Saying that too many people have died, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued a statewide mask order from Wednesday, Dec. 9 until Jan. 8, 2021.

Additional orders also close bars and restaurants at 10:00 p.m. and limit the amount of people in most of those facilities to 10 people. Exercise classes in gyms will also be reduced to 10.

Production at the Decker Mine according to a federal database
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Utah-based Lighthouse Resources has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will work on a reclamation plan for the Decker Mine in Montana. The company, with Wyoming employees, will lay-off more than half of its employees throughout its operations.

Wyoming Department of Health - State of Wyoming


After a summer with relatively few serious cases of COVID-19, Wyoming's hospitals are full and the death toll is rising. Even the governor and first lady have contracted the coronavirus and it shows no signs of letting up. State Health Officer Doctor Alexia Harrist joined Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to discuss the virus, face coverings and the vaccine.

Jackson like other communities throughout the state are dealing with an increase of COVID-19 cases.

The Teton County Public Health Response Coordinator Rachel Wheeler said most testing has been done at the hospital. But they were worried not everyone could easily get there. So the state Department of Health stepped in and provided two Curative kiosks. They are staffed by Curative providers.

Taylar Stagner

Riverton Library is quiet today. And sure, libraries are supposed to be quiet places but right now it's extra quiet. Before COVID-19 heath restrictions the Riverton Library was seeing 450 people on average per day with a staff of ten assistant librarians.

Kamila Kudelska

Early one morning, U.S. National Guard veteran Ron Loporto sat down on his exercise ball in front of a laptop to log into his telehealth session. He has been doing this weekly for the past month or so.

On Dec. 10, the first COVID-19 vaccine will be evaluated by a Food and Drug Administration advisory group, made of external vaccine experts. They'll say - in a public meeting - whether they think the FDA should give emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and why.


COVID-19 contact tracers continue to be in short supply. That’s especially true for bilingual ones.

States only have a few weeks left to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds, which is spurring lawmakers around the Mountain West to pass major aid deals now.


St. John's Health CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre wrote a letter to the Jackson Town Council saying the hospital is at capacity and at risk of being overwhelmed. The council held an emergency meeting after receiving the letter.

Peabody Energy's share price over the past year
Seeking Alpha

In a November federal filing, Peabody Energy reported it would no longer be paying into a certain healthcare benefit plan for retired miners who are on or eligible for Medicare or provide life insurance to retirees. That includes those in Wyoming.

Despite a drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the Mountain West last week, public health officials are warning folks not to breathe a sigh of relief.

"Here [in Utah] a lot of the facilities that were doing testing were closed completely on Thanksgiving," said Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley. "I think that had a big impact on the smaller numbers of people testing positive as well as people just being tested in general."

Pixabay

About 40% of Wyomingites have a library card, which makes many resources available while staying at home. Curbside pickup, increased access to audiobooks, and e-readers eliminate the need to go inside a library and pick up a book. But librarians across the state are still looking for better ways to help communities access all their services.

Patrick Amole via wyomingbusiness.org/ERP

Wyoming will double its contribution of federal CARES Act funds to the oil and gas industry through the Energy Rebound Program.

Patricia Radar

November is Native American Heritage month and the University of Wyoming's Native American Education, Resource, and Cultural Center recently held a virtual speaker series that attracted about 100 students, faculty, and community members.

Nevada recently hosted its annual rural health conference, with a particular focus on infrastructure as COVID-19 continues to ravage rural America.

Wyoming's Gov. Mark Gordon has tested positive for COVID-19. His office said he has only minor symptoms at this point, including a dry cough, and "plans to continue working on behalf of Wyoming remotely."

Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Adobe Stock


When Willow Belden goes holiday shopping she likes to support local businesses. This year, though, it's meant calling stores and asking, "Are you guys wearing masks? But are you really wearing masks? And, like, what else are you doing?"

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