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Sweetwater County records first coronavirus death, bringing statewide total to 22
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CORONAVIRUS

Sweetwater County records first coronavirus death, bringing statewide total to 22

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Coronavirus

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S.

A 22nd Wyomingite has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the state Health Department announced Tuesday.

The man was described by the agency as an older Sweetwater County resident who had “health conditions known to put patients at higher risk of serious illness related to COVID-19.” He had also been hospitalized. In a subsequent news release, health officials in the county said the man was a 77-year-old Rock Springs resident who was hospitalized Friday and died Monday. He first experienced symptoms on July 7, six days before his death.

“On behalf of the entire MHSC family, we express our deepest sympathy for the family and loved ones of our first COVID-related death in Sweetwater County,” Irene Richardson, the CEO of Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, said in a statement. The hospital still has two coronavirus patients hospitalized, though they’re described as “stable.” Neither is on a ventilator.

It’s the first coronavirus death in Sweetwater County, which as of Tuesday has had 145 confirmed cases of the disease, along with 11 probable cases. The county has identified 60 new confirmed cases since July 1, including 17 in the last two days. That matches a recent spike in cases statewide, particularly in neighboring Uinta County, which now has 168 cases, plus 40 probable cases (close contacts of laboratory-confirmed patients who have exhibited coronavirus-like symptoms themselves).

The death is the second this month. On July 7, a Laramie County man died of the virus.

Most of the deaths in Wyoming have been of older residents, and the vast majority have had preexisting conditions that made them especially susceptible to serious infections.

The recent spike in cases, in Sweetwater County and across the state, has forced Gov. Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist to hit pause on their gradual loosening of various restrictions on life in Wyoming. The public health orders were again extended this week, this time through the end of the month.

Still, the orders are much more lax than those instituted in March. Restaurants, bars, gyms and schools are all open; larger gatherings are allowed, and the state has not instituted a statewide mandatory mask order.

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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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