Thirty-nine more Wyomingites have died from COVID-19, the Wyoming Department of Health reported Tuesday. This week's update is nearly double what the health department reported last week, and is the largest weekly update since cases again began surging here this summer.
There have now been 918 coronavirus-caused deaths in Wyoming since the pandemic arrived here in March 2020.
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.
Of the newly reported deaths, 22 occurred this month. Fifteen of the deaths occurred in August, and one occurred in each June and July.
Thirty-four of the 39 residents had been hospitalized prior to their deaths -- 9 of whom were hospitalized out of state. Twenty-four of the 39 had underlying health conditions increasing their risk for severe illness from the virus.
Deaths declined dramatically this spring, with the number reported each week in the single digits since mid-March. But the trend hasn't held. The weekly updates on COVID-19 deaths have been in the double digits for several of the past weeks. Still, figures are roughly half what they were in early winter when the state was recording more than 50 deaths per week.
COVID-19 infections, too, had plummeted since the winter surge. But cases and hospitalizations are surging again as unvaccinated residents develop severe illness from the virus. On Monday, 217 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Wyoming.
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 trails the nation. The state is in a three-way tie for the lowest proportion of fully and partially vaccinated residents in the U.S.
Less than 37% of the state is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and about 248,300 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine.