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Wyoming has highest COVID death rate in the U.S. heading into fight against Biden vax mandates

Demonstrators protesting a vaccine mandate for clients of Seton House (Gregory Hirst)

CASPER, Wyo. — As the Wyoming Legislature prepares to hold a special session to fight against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the Cowboy State is dealing with the country’s highest COVID-19 death rate per capita.

Wyoming is also seeing the third highest transmission rate by population of any state in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of Sunday, the Cowboy State had reported 69 total COVID-19-related deaths in the past seven days. That amounts to 11.9 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people during the time span, the highest rate of deaths by population in the United States, according to the CDC.

Montana has the second-highest death rate per capita at 11.1 per 100,000 people, followed by Alaska with 10.8 deaths per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

Alaska, Montana and Wyoming are also the three states with the highest COVID-19 transmission rates per capita. As of Sunday, Wyoming had reported 3,037 COVID-19 cases in the past seven days, amounting to 524.7 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.

Only Alaska (with 739 cases per 100,000 people) and Montana (with 551.9 cases per 100,000 people) saw higher per capita rates of COVID-19 transmission over that time span.

Wyoming reached a new all-time high of 249 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Thursday. The state’s largest hospital, the Wyoming Medical Center, had 67 COVID-19 patients on Friday, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. The WMC was among seven hospitals in the state with zero available intensive care unit beds on Friday.

States which have more COVID-19 restrictions in place are tending to see lower per capita death and transmission rates. California, where anyone not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is required to wear a face mask indoors and where health care workers are required to get vaccinated, has the country’s third lowest transmission rate at 63.1 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

Hawaii, where mask orders and gathering and capacity restrictions are in place, has the second lowest transmission rate at 59.1 cases per 100,000 over the past seven days.

Other areas which have some of the lowest COVID-19 transmission rates include Louisiana, New York City and the District of Columbia. Both New Orleans and New York City are requiring people to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results in order to gain access to restaurants, gyms and entertainment. D.C. has mask mandates in place as well as vaccine mandates for state employees.

Florida has fewer restrictions than some of these other areas, but also has the country’s lowest per capita transmission rate over the past seven days, according to the CDC. Florida’s governor signed a bill in May banning vaccine passports.

Banning vaccine passports is one of the concepts being proposed for the Wyoming Legislature’s special session that is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

A majority of Wyoming legislators voted in favor of holding the special session, which is expected to focus on proposals aimed at limiting the impact of vaccine mandates in the state. A variety of bills have been proposed that would penalize employers who require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

That legislation is being proposed as the country awaits the finalization of President Joe Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which will apply to employers with over 100 employees.

While much of the legislation proposed for the upcoming special session in Wyoming aims to limit or prevent the implementation of vaccine mandates in the state, some legislation has also been proposed to protect workers who choose to leave their jobs if their employers choose to ignore federal vaccine mandates.

A full list of proposed legislation for the upcoming special session is available from the Wyoming Legislature’s website.

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.