First COVID-19 death in Wyoming

Older Johnson County man hospitalized with COVID-19 dies, Wyoming at 275 confirmed cases and 140 recoveries

Series: COVID-19 | Story 27

The first death related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wyoming was confirmed on Monday by the Wyoming Department of Health. The death comes nearly a month after Governor Mark Gordon issued his first public health order closing public spaces and a month since Wyoming had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

According to the press release from the Wyoming Department of Health, the first confirmed COVID-19 death is a Johnson County man who had been hospitalized and previously confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus. The release went on to state that the older man had health conditions that “put him at a higher risk of severe illnesses and complications related to COVID-19.”

“This is a sad development we hoped we wouldn’t see in Wyoming and we want this person’s family to know they have our sympathy,” said State Health Officer Alexia Harrist. “The advice we’ve been offering and actions we’ve taken ultimately come down to preventing as many serious illnesses and deaths connected to this disease as we can.”

Up until now, Wyoming had been the only state in the country without a confirmed COVID-19 related death. Recently, there had been some rumors circulating in Carbon County that one of the four cases assigned to the county had died from COVID-19 compilations despite information from the Carbon County COVID-19 Incident Management Team stating otherwise.

“We have had no deaths related to COVID-19,” said Jacquelin Wells, public information officer for the COVID-19 Incident Management Team.

As of Tuesday morning, in addition to the one COVID-19 related death, the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wyoming was at 275 with 98 probable cases and 140 recovered cases. With 21 counties now reporting at least one confirmed case, Platte and Weston counties are the only two that have yet to have a confirmed case.

“I am saddened to learn that we have lost our first Wyoming citizen to COVID-19. This one was close to home and sadly serves as a grim reminder of the importance of following public health orders and guidance so that we can reduce the number of serious illnesses and deaths in our state,” said Gordon in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Jennie and I extend our thoughts and prayers to this gentleman’s family and friends.”

In recent weeks, Gordon has faced criticism for having not issued a shelter-in-place order like Governor Steve Bollock of Montana and Governor Jared Polis of Colorado. At a press conference on April 3, Gordon stated that if he were to issue such an order, it would not come with the exceptions seen in either of the neighboring states. On April 10, however, Gordon was praised by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a national press conference.

In light of Wyoming’s first COVID-19 related death, the Wyoming Department of Health and Carbon County Public Health continue to promote measures to help prevent the spread of the virus. These include following current public health orders, staying home when sick and avoiding contact with other people unless medical attention is needed, and following common sense steps such as washing your hands often and well, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning and disinfecting.

“While we’ve learned most people who are infected are able to recover at home without medical care, we also know people who are aged 65 and older and people who have medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and weak immune systems are more likely to experience complications and become severely ill,” Harrist said.

In Carbon County, as of Tuesday morning, three of the four confirmed cases had fully recovered from COVID-19 and Carbon County Public Health was investigating 28 cases with symptoms similar to the novel coronavirus. Of those cases, seven have fully recovered and two have been hospitalized.


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