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COVID-19

Wyoming's COVID-19 death toll rises by five

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COVID-19 Testing

Coronavirus specimen collection kits arrive at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory in Cheyenne for sorting Friday, Sept. 4. The lab covers the cost of shipping and receives daily shipments from health care centers. The samples arrive in one day and roughly 80% of the samples are tested the same day they arrive at the facility.

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

There have now been 1,829 coronavirus-caused deaths in Wyoming since the pandemic arrived here in March 2020.

The new deaths touch five of Wyoming’s 23 counties. Albany, Big Horn, Fremont, Natrona and Sheridan counties reported one death each.

Two of the people whose deaths were announced this past week had preexisting health conditions that put them at risk of more severe illness from contracting COVID-19. One was hospitalized. Two were residents of long-term care facilities.

Last week, no COVID deaths were reported in the state.

Three of the newly announced deaths occurred in June. Two occurred in May.

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.

Broadly speaking, the number of deaths in Wyoming correlates with the rise and fall of cases in the state, often trailing by a few weeks changes in infection and hospitalization rates.

Deaths declined dramatically last spring. But when cases surged late last summer and early fall, the weekly updates on COVID-19 deaths rose as well. That number rose toward the end of January but then fell considerably beginning in February.

The spread of new omicron subvariants is leading to another increase in COVID cases in Wyoming. The Wyoming Department of Health reported 464 confirmed active cases this week, up by 306 from the number of cases reported a month ago.

Hospitalizations seem to be rising a bit, but not as dramatically as cases. On Tuesday, 24 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Wyoming, compared with 14 a month ago.

But reported COVID deaths don’t seem to be increasing. In the past couple months, there were three weeks when the Wyoming Department of Health didn’t report any deaths.

Last year’s COVID-19 surge was driven by the delta variant, which is more contagious and causes more serious illness than the first strain of COVID-19 that emerged here. But delta is no longer the dominant strain in Wyoming. The omicron variant has overtaken it. The omicron strain, which is now responsible for most of Wyoming’s new cases, appears more contagious than delta, but studies have shown it causes less severe symptoms.

Wyoming’s vaccination rate trails most of the country. Nationally, the state has the second-lowest proportion of fully vaccinated residents.

Roughly 51% of the state is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 22% have gotten a booster. About 58% of Wyomingites have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

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