health

Polls show Americans are increasingly interested in getting vaccinated against covid-19, but such surveys are largely national, leaving a big question: When the vaccines become available to the general public, will enough people get it in your county, city or neighborhood to keep your community safe?

Last week, Texas joined Montana and a handful of other states in lifting its statewide mask mandate, a move that runs counter to warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ivan Radic via CC BY 2.0

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon will remove the statewide mask requirement starting on March 16. In a press release sent out Monday morning, Gordon also announced he would lift all restrictions on bars, restaurants, theaters, and gyms, allowing them to resume normal operations on that same date.

Pixabay, Public Domain

The Wyoming Senate's Health and Labor committee voted 3-2 to limit the power of the governor and public health officials regarding a public health order.

Health officials hope the newly approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine will accelerate progress in vaccinating rural and homebound residents in the Mountain West. But there’s some unnecessary confusion over the shot’s efficacy.

Vaccine appointment frustration is pretty common these days. And because of challenges with hospital systems, a lot of people are turning to pharmacies to get their COVID-19 vaccine. However, it's still a pain to track down information on every pharmacy's website.


Over the weekend, the FDA approved a third COVID-19 vaccine. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe disease, promises to boost inoculation rates in Mountain West states, including rural areas. 

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Senate is debating a bill that's intended to protect businesses from liability if someone is exposed to COVID-19 in their establishment.

Roman Tiraspolsky / Adobe Stock


The pandemic has caused huge revenue shortfalls in state budgets across the Mountain West and the country, renewing heated debates over taxes. That's true in Wyoming, too, though one tax issue before lawmakers is "still something that, you know, gets whispered about."

Wyoming Department of Health

Gov. Mark Gordon announced he has relaxed several public health orders, as well as the complete removal of one. The changes will go into effect on March 1.

Latino and Black people are generally more vulnerable to COVID-19, yet they remain far less likely to have received a vaccine, according to the latest demographic data from the CDC.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

President Biden and Vice President Harris acknowledged a grim milestone Monday: the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans from COVID-19.

Biden and Harris, along with first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, emerged from the White House at sundown. They stood at the foot of the South Portico, covered in 500 candles honoring the dead, and listened to a Marine Corps band play "Amazing Grace" as they held a moment of silence.

Cassidy Enloe

Quick and accurate COVID-19 testing is a key part of getting the pandemic under control. And a Laramie company is part of the effort to make that a reality. Wyoming Public Radio's Ivy Engel talked to CellDrop Biosciences founder, Ben Noren, about the type of testing they are developing.

In the Mountain West and across the country, states are rolling back COVID-19 restrictions like mask mandates and allowing more people to gather. While this was largely a response to reduced infection numbers, new strains of the virus are on the move.


As highly contagious coronavirus variants spread, health experts in the Mountain West and beyond are urging people to upgrade and double up their masks.

Department of Defense photo by Lisa Ferdinando

For almost a year, Susie Scott hasn't been able to volunteer or see her children without a mask for longer than five minutes.

"That human touch is, I don't care who you are, everybody needs that," said Scott.

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines unfolds in the U.S., numerous questions around distribution, supply, hesitancy and efficacy persist. Experts from Harvard and the CDC will tackle these questions.

Watch an expert panel discussion on the effort to deploy against COVID-19 on Friday, Jan. 22, to be live-streamed here at 12 p.m. ET, as part of The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

You can email your questions to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu.

Some of the Mountain West's COVID-19 hotspots have been, and continue to be, areas with major ski resorts.


Erika Yarber

Wind River Cares, a community-based health organization that serves the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, is piloting a program in schools to provide proactive care for eligible students.

A love of apocalyptic horror films may have actually helped people mentally prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic. At least, that's according to research published this month in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.


Pixabay, Public Domain

The pandemic has made the position of county public health officer more than just a part-time job: it has become political. So far, two officers in Wyoming have been removed from their positions and one has resigned. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska spoke with Washakie County's public officer, who did the work for ten years until he was removed by the commission this past fall. Dr. Ed Zimmerman said before the pandemic, the position was relatively easy.

Updated 5:06 p.m. ET

On Friday afternoon, President-Elect Joe Biden shared a detailed plan to tackle the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, promising to fight the pandemic with "the full strength of the federal government."

In a speech in Delaware, Biden laid out his five-part plan for how to speed up the vaccination campaign: Open up vaccine eligibility to more people; create more vaccination sites; increase vaccine supply; hire a vaccination workforce; and launch a large-scale public education campaign.

Fred Drews

As the director of education and programs at the Meeteetse Museums, Amy Phillips said part of her job is to document history, adding 2020 was a historic year.

Public Domain

During Teton County's weekly COVID-19 update, St. John's Health CEO Paul Beupre said the vaccine progress is going pretty smoothly in the county. Yet, he said the state is not receiving as many vaccine doses as it should be, according to the amount of vaccine the federal government has purchased.

 

State lawmakers across the Mountain West are convening for legislative sessions that will focus largely on the fallout of the pandemic. But without significant precautions, statehouses could become hotbeds for COVID-19 spread.

Legislative sessions typically bring together hundreds of lawmakers, legislative staff, lobbyists, journalists, and members of the public. They travel to and from every corner of a given state and gather indoors, sometimes in cramped meeting spaces.

Natrona County Health

Starting this Wednesday, January 13, residents of Natrona County 70 or older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The opening in eligibility marks the Casper-Natrona County Health Department's (CNCHD) move to the next phase of its vaccination rollout.

Credit: Bastian Weltjen / Adobe Stock

About a third of Americans living in rural areas say they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

When the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will partner with retail pharmacies such as Costco and Walgreen to help distribute them. But a new analysis of rural counties finds that as many as 750 counties don't have one of those pharmacies.

U.S. Secretary of Defense

It has been about three weeks since Wyoming received its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Since then, the state has been busy trying to get the vaccine out to the first priority groups.

Once the first vaccine shipments came to Wyoming, the state's department of health and local experts took federal guidance and amended it for the state.

Will Laegried

The University of Wyoming (UW) has prioritized testing for its community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its testing program started at the beginning of the school year and has been an important tool as UW monitored the presence of the virus.

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