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Wyoming surpasses 400 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, capping record-breaking week
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Wyoming surpasses 400 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, capping record-breaking week

Virus Outbreak

This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. 

Wyoming established a new record Friday for daily COVID-19 cases with 426, capping off a week that saw the state establish new highs in a number of categories including coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths.

The new all-time high for daily cases exceeded the previous one of 322 set just two days prior.

The average number of new daily cases in the state has increased more than 140% in the last month and active cases have skyrocketed past 3,000, data from the Wyoming Department of Health shows. A month ago, there were just over 840 active cases statewide, and the state had never surpassed more than 1,000 active cases.

The state Thursday also passed 10,000 total COVID-19 infections since the pandemic emerged.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have also routinely hit new benchmarks this month. Eighty-three people were hospitalized with the virus across Wyoming Friday. This week is the first time that number went above 80. Two weeks ago, 56 people were hospitalized. Two weeks before that, there were 22 hospital beds with a COVID-19 patient.

Sixty-eight Wyoming residents have died from COVID-19 since March. Eighteen of those deaths occurred in October — making it the highest month on record with a week to go. Eleven occurred this week.

Health officials have warned that hospitalizations and deaths reported now are a reflection of COVID-19 transmissions two weeks ago, as it can take up to 14 days after exposure for symptoms to emerge. In the last two weeks, active cases have more than doubled.

Local health officials and government leaders have begun to sound the alarm. Casper Mayor Steve Freel Thursday held a press conference urging residents to wear face masks and dismissed arguments that they infringe on personal liberties.

“Is it my personal right to drink and drive and put someone else’s life at risk?” Freel rhetorically asked, adding that those who choose not to wear face coverings don’t have a right to put others in danger, saying “their rights end when their choices harm others.”

Two days earlier, the Laramie County Board of Health passed a motion to mandate face masks in the county.

Gov. Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist have twice in October made sobering pronouncements about the state of COVID-19 spread in the state, urging the use of face masks and other prevention measures.

“It is incredibly important that we take personal responsibility for our actions and understand how those actions can implicate others,” Gordon said Wednesday. “Part of the responsibility for us is to be honest about this virus. It is not chicken pox, it is not the flu and it is certainly not the cold.

Last week, the Wyoming Medical Center called a Code Orange after nearing capacity and having to hold 17 non-COVID-19 patients in the emergency room simply because there was no room elsewhere for them in the hospital.

The Natrona County School District, too, has begun to see the impact of growing cases in the community. Forty percent of the cases reported among district students and staff were reported in the last two weeks, though none of those infections occurred in school, district and health officials said, suggesting the widespread use of masks has been effective in limiting virus transmission.

Follow local government reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @morganhwrites

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Health and education reporter

Morgan Hughes covers health and education in Wyoming. After growing up in rural Wisconsin, she graduated from Marquette University in 2018. She moved to Wyoming shortly after and covered education in Cheyenne before joining the Star-Tribune in May 2019.

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