In week 13 of the pandemic, the Northern Arapaho Tribe continued to suffer disproportionate losses from a virus the rest of the state seems eager to move on from.
On Wednesday the Northern Arapaho Tribe mourned its ninth death from COVID-19. Tribal members account for half of the state’s 18 deaths, though Native Americans make up only 2.7% of Wyoming’s population.
Confirmed case counts rose from 734 on Sunday to 793 on Thursday evening. There have been 622 recoveries among confirmed cases.
Uinta County had a particularly bad week. Cases there doubled from Thursday, June 4, to Monday, when they reached 22 cases. Then they doubled again — Uinta County had 48 confirmed cases by the evening of Thursday, June 11. Nine confirmed cases have recovered, indicating the spate of known infections is a recent development. A health official in the county said the outbreak closely follows the celebration and travel-filled Memorial Day weekend, according to the Uinta County Herald.
Gov. Mark Gordon continued touting success as he eased more restrictions this week. “It is important to remain vigilant,” Gordon said in a Wednesday press release, “but because we have been so successful, I am confident we can continue lifting the very few remaining public health restrictions.”
The governor’s latest orders raised gathering limits to 250 people in large spaces where social distancing is possible and 50 people in more confined spaces without restrictions. The new regulations go into effect June 15. Churches and funeral homes are exempted from the new orders.
Gordon’s new orders allow schools, community colleges and the University of Wyoming to once again provide in-person instruction.
One of the state’s bigger rodeos, the Fourth-of-July-weekend Cody Stampede, reversed course on an earlier cancellation and will run, albeit with restrictions. Cody has been testing its sewage for the presence of COVID-19 as a way to detect the virus’s presence in the town. The second such test came back without finding any COVID-19, according to a presentation to the Park County Commissioners this week, the Cody Enterprise reports.
The state’s hardest-hit county, Fremont, tallied 270 confirmed cases and 227 recoveries among confirmed cases as of Thursday. The county added six new cases to its rolls from Wednesday alone. Laramie County, in second, reported 122 confirmed cases and 120 recoveries among those cases.
Protesters, most in masks, continued to march in Laramie daily to support black lives and oppose police brutality following similar rallies across the state. Marchers there have increasingly focused on a 2018 Laramie police shooting as they called for action from local officials. Tensions are growing between the marchers and armed counter protesters, the Laramie Boomerang reports.
Leading lawmakers postponed a special legislative session that had been proposed for late June to continue responding to the pandemic. The decision followed an internal polling of lawmakers by legislative leadership. The poll asked lawmakers if they wanted to conduct a two- or three-day session where the bills would be restricted to those selected by legislative leadership, according to a copy obtained by WyoFile.
The state continued to brace for dire budget cuts. Legislative committees are meeting frequently, but it’s the governor who will make preliminary cuts. Gordon will slice into agency budgets by July 1 or “shortly after,” his budget director told lawmakers on the Joint Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.
The state gets to hold onto $47 million in oil and gas lease revenue it sorely needs for a little longer after a judge’s ruling in a lawsuit regarding Bureau of Land Management leases. Wyoming will have a chance to appeal the judge’s ruling that the federal agency violated laws protecting sage grouse and public participation when it auctioned development rights to the parcels.
Summer still marches on, Wyoming style. Tour boat the Jenny Leigh II returned to the famed Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports. Heavy and wet June snows, meanwhile, wreaked havoc in Laramie.