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Park County coronavirus cases jump ahead of Cody Stampede kickoff
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Park County coronavirus cases jump ahead of Cody Stampede kickoff

Parker Breding

Parker Breding of Edgar, Montana, rides Summit Pro Rodeo's Turnabout for 92.5 points to win a performance of the Cody Stampede last year. This year's rodeo will be held with added precautions because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Cody Stampede is set to begin Wednesday, as Park County’s coronavirus caseload has increased this month from a handful of cases to more than 40.

The rodeo had received permission from the state to proceed with the event with 40% of its capacity and more seats brought in to allow for maximum social distancing. The plan is still for the event to go ahead, Park County health officer Dr. Aaron Billin told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday.

State approval “has not been rescinded,” he wrote in an email. “The recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Park County warrants extra caution.”

He said organizers had brought in 1,000 extra bleacher seats and said that rodeo fans who are sick, over 65, have underlying health conditions or have had contact with a sick person should stay home.

The county added 11 new cases Tuesday, bringing its total to 44. Park County was one of the first in the state to confirm a case but had kept its caseload low for months, starting June with just two. That dam broke mid-month, and cases in the northwestern county have steadily ticked upward, in line with a general spike statewide.

Kim Deti, spokeswoman for the state Health Department, said the order approving the Cody Stampede was still in place but that Park County had hit pause on another exemption related to restaurants.

“If people follow the plan and make smart choices it is possible to have the event in a safe way,” she said of the rodeo. “Physical distancing and the use of cloth face coverings are the keys.”

Face coverings are required for staff who are within six feet of other people; for attendees, coverings are “highly encouraged,” she said.

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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"I want to be very clear – rodeo as a whole is not 'cancelled' in Wyoming," the governor said. "There are no public health orders issued by the state that would 'shut down' rodeos or prevent them from taking place."

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