Wyoming news briefs for November 19

UW mask mandate to continue into December

CASPER — The University of Wyoming will continue to require masks inside most of its buildings when social distancing isn’t possible, the school announced Thursday.

The university’s board of trustees voted the same day to extend the mask rule until at least Dec. 15, when the panel will revisit the policy.

The rule first went into effect in August, around the same time students returned to campus for the fall semester. It coincided with a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Wyoming that only recently began to subsided.

In announcing the extension of the mask requirement, the school noted that Albany County, where the university if located, remains in the Wyoming Department of Health’s “high transmission levels” category.

The move does not come as a surprise. In September, recommendations from the school’s pandemic task force indicated the mask requirement would likely continue through the fall semester.

“Our indoor mask requirement has helped us have a traditional fall semester without a spike in COVID cases, and we appreciate the willingness of our community members to do their part by complying,” President Ed Seidel said in a statement. “It will be important for us to maintain a high level of compliance before and after the Thanksgiving break so that we can complete a successful semester.”

The university was aware of 32 active cases of COVID-19 among its students and staff as of Monday, according to the school. The majority were students who live off campus.


Utah woman killed in accident near Evanston

EVANSTON — At approximately 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14, the Wyoming Highway Patrol was called to the scene of an accident on Highway 189 at mile marker 8.9. 

A red Subaru Outback with Utah plates had hit a deer and the vehicle had come to rest in the middle of the highway. The Subaru had been rendered totally disabled and all lights had been knocked out. 

Two people who had been in the vehicle exited the car — 66-year-old Amy Castillo and her son-in-law Alan Wilder, 34 years, both from Salt Lake City, Utah. 

WHP Sgt. Remington Roberts told the Herald that people from cars that stopped to offer assistance said they had walked over to the wreck and led Castillo over to the parked cars. 

Witnesses told Roberts that they were trying to determine how to move the Subaru from the middle of the highway and Wilder had returned to the Subaru and was sitting in the driver’s side of the car, attempting to see if he could get it started. 

Unknown to the witnesses, Castillo had wandered over to stand by the driver’s side of the car and was on her phone with the 911 operator when a Mitsubishi Lancer traveling north hit the Subaru, glancing off the front of it and hitting Castillo fatally. 

“This was a tragic accident and no fault of the driver of the Mitsubishi,” Roberts said. “It was very sad for all involved.”


Grand Teton sees second-busiest October

JACKSON — Grand Teton National Park had more than 105,000 fewer visits last month than it did a year earlier, but the count was still high enough to score as the park’s second-busiest October on record.

The park hosted an estimated 245,834 recreation visits in October, down 30-percent from October 2020, when the total hit 351,173, and 32-percent above October 2019, when the total was 186,487, according to a park press release.

“From January to October 2021, there was a 7-percent increase in recreation visits compared to the entire year of 2018, which previously hosted the park’s highest amount of recreation visits on record,” the release said.

Camping, backcountry camping and people’s use of trails, where such use is counted, all increased in October 2021 compared with the same month in 2019, the release said.