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Wyoming's COVID-19 death toll rises by 49

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Vaccination Clinic

Nurses fill syringes with doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines Nov. 9 at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper. Wyoming is among 10 states suing the federal government over a vaccine mandate for health care workers.

Forty-nine more Wyomingites have died from COVID-19, the Wyoming Department of Health reported Tuesday.

This fall has been among the most deadly periods for COVID-19 related illnesses since the pandemic arrived in Wyoming.

There have now been 1,347 coronavirus-caused deaths in Wyoming since the pandemic arrived here in March 2020. More than a third of those deaths were reported after Sept. 1 of this year.

Thirty-one of the new deaths occurred in November, with three of those taking place in the last week. Sixteen occurred in October, and two in September.

The state does not include a death in its COVID-19 count unless the virus is listed on the patient’s death certificate as either the cause of death or a contributing factor. There is often a lag between when deaths occur and when deaths are reported because of the time it takes for death certificates to be processed.

Thirty-nine of the 49 people were hospitalized prior to their deaths, four out of state. Twenty-five had underlying health conditions increasing their risk to COVID-19. Four were residents of long-term care facilities.

Of the 14 counties that experienced an increase in deaths, Park County bore the brunt with 10 new deaths. Natrona and Goshen counties each added six deaths, while Laramie and Campbell counties added four each. Carbon, Fremont, Sheridan and Weston counties each reported three new deaths. Sweetwater County added two deaths, both from September, and Hot Springs, Lincoln, Sublette and Uinta counties each added one.

Deaths declined dramatically this spring, with the number reported each week in the single digits since mid-March. But the trend hasn’t held. Figures have reached what they were in early winter, when the state was recording more than 50 deaths per week.

Last week, the state reported 55 deaths caused by COVID-19. The week before that, Wyoming had its single highest weekly update of the pandemic with 69 deaths reported.

The state health department is not releasing the vaccine status of each hospitalized patient but has said roughly 95% of recent hospitalizations have been among the unvaccinated.

A more contagious variant of the virus has led federal and state officials to again recommend face masks be worn in areas with low vaccine uptake and moderate-to-high virus transmission.

Gov. Mark Gordon has said his office will not implement any more mandates or lockdowns. Gordon said he encourages residents to get vaccinated but that the decision is “intensely personal” and he is not planning any interventions to increase uptake.

Wyoming’s vaccination rate remains the second-lowest in the nation with 44% of the state fully inoculated against COVID-19. Only West Virginia has a worse rate at 41%.

Unvaccinated Wyomingites are also the most hesitant in the country to accept the shots, or to give them to their children, according to U.S. Census Bureau polls.

About 270,000 residents have so far received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday. Nearly 53,000 booster doses have been given.


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