Bill Sniffin

Wyoming columnist

What a slog the last six months have been, as we have had to deal with a mysterious worldwide viral pandemic called COVID-19.

Do I really want to write about COVID-19? Is everybody out there as tired about talking about the coronavirus epidemic as I am?

Now, let me be clear. I am not saying this is not a big story. And for sure, it is a gigantic international health emergency. When it started, I thought this might be the biggest news story of my career. Across the country, the number of deaths approaches 200,000. But covering the story has become somewhat wearisome.

In my day job as publisher of the Cowboy State Daily digital news service platform, we counted 550 stories about coronavirus that we produced so far in 2020. What an extraordinary number!

And how people react to the virus is so political. There has been many a dispute across the Cowboy State in the past six months where mask wearers have been upset with their non-mask wearing brethren. By the way, at my age, I try to always wear my mask.

The country is torn apart. Most recently there has been rioting in the streets. These protests have crossed over to the pro football, basketball, and baseball leagues.

A bunch of ornery sorts have given up watching pro sports because of it. In that group of coffee drinkers that I call the Fox News All-Stars here in Lander, nine out of 11 guys recently told me they gave up watching professional sports.

I am still watching. Hard to give up pro sports. But these formerly dedicated sports watchers have given it up because of all the distractions. They do not watch pro sports anymore — except hockey and golf, I guess.

Apparently, COVID-19 is still rampant across the country. There is one prominent Wyomingite in his 50s who got really sick and is still reeling from the consequences. Based on what he went through, yikes. This is not something to sneeze at, literally.

But then again, a few years ago a good friend of ours died of flu complications and she was in her early 50s and in good health. There are lots of bad bugs out there.

Our state statistics are amazing. Wyoming’s coronavirus numbers just blow my mind. As I write this on Sept. 19, here are some numbers to ponder:

Wyoming population — 551,000

Folks tested — 42,402

Tested positive — 4,124

Probable cases — 747

Deaths — 49

Persons sick now — 711

Recovered — 4,111

The statistics show 7.6% of the Wyoming population has been tested, with the percentage of people of Wyoming dying from COVID-19 being so small it almost does not register. Just one out of 11,700 people in the state have died from the virus. In comparison, there have been 92 traffic deaths so far in 2020.

Outside of Alaska, Wyoming appears to be the safest place in the USA if you do not want to die from COVID-19. Alaska has 44 deaths. Wyoming is sitting at 49.

I now fear we are living in a time of great over-reaction. As I wrote in an earlier column, when we watched those scenes of emergency rooms in Italy and New York City last spring, well, it just scared us to death. Most everyone wanted to shut things down to protect folks.

Original estimates of deaths for Wyoming were over 150. Did our social distancing really save us from that outcome? There are a lot of doubters here.

The Cowboy State has now passed its biggest test. We hosted 6 million tourists this summer and lived through it with very few infections from out of staters.

I asked in a column several months ago how does the virus fare in Wyoming’s windy and hot wide-open spaces that are very, very dry? It appears that the virus definitely did not thrive. And that is good news. Also, maybe Wyoming people really are healthier.

Plus, folks here have been practicing social distancing since 1890. At first, it was easy to stay put, especially during wintry March and April days. Despite the smoke, we then enjoyed a fabulous summer. Our Wyoming economy probably did not need to be shut down to the extent that it was, but who knew? Maybe it was better to be safe than sorry.

I am glad the economy is continuing to open up and I can see much better days ahead. Next year at this time, we will look back at these times in amazement and wonder.

Bill Sniffin is a longtime journalist from lander and publisher of Cowboy State Daily. Email:

(5) comments

mandatory field

Yup, no need for hysterics!

But still, Laramie is a college town and active cases in Albany County have better than quadrupled in the last month.


The PCR test is "designed" to generate "cases" as opposed to illness. Elevated case numbers are then used by the authorities to impose more draconian restrictions on our freedoms. In the news today, Florida is OPEN no restrictions while Gov. Gordon and Dr. Harrist still have their boots on our throats.

Brett Glass

Bill Sniffin is either ignorant of the data or banking columns way ahead of time. The number of confirmed cases in Wyoming has surged all over the state, but especially in Laramie where the University of Wyoming has unwisely reopened and allowed students to cavort in off campus housing and in bars. The danger is now greater than ever before. Statisticians who have calculated estimates of the risk of infection for each county in the United States say that in a group of 100 random Albany County residents, the odds are 2:1 that one of them will have the virus AND BE INFECTIOUS. Those are NOT good odds. What's more, virologists and epidemiologists have reported that the virus has mutated after arriving in the US and has become even more contagious. As winter approaches and people naturally stay indoors, we will have serious problems - and quite a few deaths - if we don't all mask up, engage in social distancing, and avoid gatherings.


"Statisticians who have calculated estimates of the risk of infection for each county in the United States say that in a group of 100 random Albany County residents, the odds are 2:1 that one of them will have the virus AND BE INFECTIOUS" Post your source or disappear back into your flock and await your next order from the dog.


"Statisticians who have calculated estimates of the risk of infection for each county in the United States say that in a group of 100 random Albany County residents, the odds are 2:1 that one of them will have the virus AND BE INFECTIOUS." Post your source or put your mask back on and rejoin the flock. Await your next instructions from the dog.

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