health

Kevin Vandivier

Taking a vitamin D supplement may be a good idea as the summer comes to an end. Medical experts say it can provide a boost to your immune system, and may even help your body fight the coronavirus.

University of Wyoming

After five more University of Wyoming students tested positive for COVID-19, the University has paused its fall return plan.  

A new report shows that the COVID-19 recession has households in the Mountain West facing high hardship rates, especially when it comes to rent and food security.

 


For days now, wildfire smoke has degraded the air quality in much of the Mountain West, and that unhealthy air is forcing tough decisions for schools that are trying to reopen.

 


The Mountain West has seen the largest increase in mask-wearing over the last few months than any other region, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.


Wyoming PBS

Gov. Mark Gordon announced $250 million in budget cuts as the state tries to deal with a massive budget deficit of over $1 billion. Nine percent of that cut will come from the Wyoming Department of Health, which will eliminate a number of programs that serve seniors and low-income people. 

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.


Frank Fahland has been slowly building his dream house near Libby, Mont., for the past 15 years. 

"It's an Amish log home with a beautiful stain on it and the best back deck you've ever seen in your whole life," he says, overlooking pine-forested foothills and an open meadow.

Ever since the pandemic ramped up in mid-March, Fahland, 61, has been spending most days up here – away from people. Like hundreds of other folks in Libby, he's vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 because his lungs are scarred from breathing in asbestos-laced dust from a nearby mine for decades. He struggles to climb a small hill near his house before reaching for an inhaler. 

Tennessee Watson

Across Wyoming, students are returning to schools armed with masks, hand sanitizer, and the knowledge that their next day in class might be taught from a screen. In most districts teachers, staff and administration are determined to provide their students' education face-to-face.

National Park Service / Michael Oestriech

The Rural West Covid Project was conducted back in June and July, when cases of the novel coronavirus were spiking across the country.

TERRA earth

Skies are hazy across the region thanks to the many wildfires burning in the West, and that smoke is more dangerous during the pandemic. 

Stuart and Jen Robertson via Flickr Creative Commons

Carbon County has seen a spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county had 83 cases on Friday, and had 154 total cases by Wednesday, August 19.

Local officials said the majority of those cases are from the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins. According to the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC), there are 67 active cases among inmates and seven in staff. As of August 13, there are 573 inmates at the Rawlins facility.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming will conduct upwards of 25,000 COVID-19 tests per week when all students return to campus September 28.

Only about 20% of Americans live in rural areas, but that’s where 30% of driving and 45% of fatal traffic accidents happen.


Kamila Kudelska

Gov. Mark Gordon is extending the state's existing health orders-except for one change. Beginning Sunday, August 16, outdoor venues can hold gatherings up to 1,000 people or 50 percent of its capacity with social distancing measures.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Mountain West Conference, which includes the University of Wyoming, is cancelling all sporting events for the fall.

Concerts and music festivals around the Mountain West have been canceled due to COVID-19, but not all of them.


Enoch Leung / flickr CC BY-SA 2.0


There's a lot to consider with schools reopening this fall. That's especially true for teachers and other staff members. Take Ken Hilton—he's a middle school counselor in Laramie, Wyoming. He also has a daughter going into the seventh grade. He says he's not sure what the best approach is. This piece was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau's Maggie Mullen and was made possible with the support of America Amplified.

Savannah Maher

After four months under a strict stay-at-home order, residents of the Wind River Reservation will now be able to gather in small groups, enter tribal buildings, and return to work at non-essential jobs on the reservation. Tribal offices and businesses, including casinos, hotels and restaurants, will also be permitted to re-open.

Arapahoe School District

 

Hundreds of students on the Wind River Reservation will begin the school year online. This week the Fort Washakie, Wyoming Indian and Arapahoe districts, as well as St. Stephen's Indian School, became the first in the state to officially opt for virtual instruction.

Yale School of Public Health researchers created a simulation: a hypothetical campus of 5,000 students where 10 are asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. They found the safest way to reopen a campus like that was to enforce strict guidelines like distancing and mask-wearing. But that wasn't enough.


This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Tourism to Yellowstone and Glacier national parks is humming along this summer despite the pandemic, but it appears that out-of-staters are bringing more than just their money with them.

 


A vaccine against the virus behind COVID-19 offers the only certain return to normalcy. Even so, misinformation and conspiracy theories abound – and a vaccine hasn’t even been developed yet. It’s an issue people have been trying to combat for other vaccines that do exist. Colorado researchers are taking an interesting approach to bridge the gap.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

For Dr. Lori Drumm, the trouble began after she cancelled a rodeo in rural Deer Lodge, Mont.

Mike Gatewood and Erin McDaniel

As COVID-19 puts stress on the country's healthcare system, Wyoming medical workers are heading to overwhelmed places with high amounts of cases to help out. Sheridan VA Health System nurses are being sent on two-week stints to veteran and community facilities. LPNs Mike Gatewood and Erin McDaniel, who work at VA satellite clinics in the state, speak about the toll COVID-19 took at a nursing home for veterans in Maryland.

Casper College's Facebook


Wyoming has seven community colleges - and each one is preparing for the fall in its own way.

Wyoming PBS

At a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Mark Gordon extended statewide public health orders through August 15 following weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases in the state.

In comparison to other states though, Gordon said Wyoming is faring well.

Meatpacking plants across the Mountain West and the country are under intense scrutiny as they continue to face COVID-19 outbreaks.


This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A physician based in Missoula, Mont., has a message for libertarian-minded skeptics of the pandemic – cowboy up and mask up.

 


A Utah-based company called Domo is showing public health agencies in the Mountain West where their COVID-19 transmission risk is coming from. Among other things, the service uses cell phone location data to identify which counties and states visitors are coming from, and pairs it with data about how bad the local COVID-19 outbreak is there. Public health officials in Southwest Colorado say the tool has shown that at the moment, the most active people in the area are people normally based in Texas, followed by people usually based in Arizona. 

There’s a high demand for contact tracers across the nation. One university in the Mountain West is in the process of training 85 college students to help fill the gap once classes resume in the fall. 

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