In Wyoming, a Kovid growth is thriving for a struggling energy economy and the rich

Oil prices fell in April as coronoviruses devastated world energy markets – and Wyoming’s economy moved with it.

Anyone who knows the economy of the least populous state will tell you that Wyoming is an energy center, which produces 40 percent of the country’s coal and consumes 15 times more energy. In 2018, its energy production was third only in Texas and Pennsylvania. But by the second quarter of 2020, the state had lost 1 in 5 energy jobs due to a price drop.

In Douglas, Wyoming, a small city of about 6,000 and the county seat of Convocation, the most revenue comes from sales taxes related to the energy industry, said City Administrator Jonathan Teichart. So far, they have received almost a third of the revenue received by this time last year.

“We have cut our budget by 25 percent since last year, and it was probably very optimistic,” he said.

Dave Johnson closed the power plant against the morning sun at Glenrock in Wyoming on July 27, 2018.J. David AK / AP File

When the oil climbed the tank, the companies closed the wells and laid off the workers. Teichart said school enrollment this year is low because unemployed residents only pick up and leave their families. It has left many residents without many employment options and is now only grappling with Kovid-19 cases, eight months into the epidemic.

In much of Wyoming, the energy industry has “already gotten cheap and easy oil and gas resources”, said Kyle Tisdale, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, which is part of the state’s booming and bustling economy. Studies. Corporations therefore turned to more expensive methods such as horizontal fracking.

“You’re talking about a break-even point of $ 50, $ 60 per barrel, and oil is hovering around $ 40 to $ 45,” he said. “All the signs are showing that we are not too much for the future compared to the future.”

Companies leave without profits. Tisdale said, “The burden of communities is on the shoulder and they first feel the impact.”

But if you do not live in the state, Wyoming may just seem like an open frontier, where celebrities like Kanye West go to escape and relax, or perhaps lease their land rights to freaking companies.

When California was plagued by wild animals, YouTube and makeup mogul Geoffrey Starr visited her in Wyoming.

“California has such a strange atmosphere,” the star said in her Instagram story. “It means it’s time to go to Wyoming, so I’m getting on the jet right now and will just be away for a few days.”

This scenario, where energy companies would flee the state at a moment’s notice, while the super-rich exodus to the state is a sign of “structural decline”, Tisdale said.

This summer, unemployment climbed statewide, with Jackson Hole, the popular ski destination and one of America’s most financially uneven regions, busy in a season as usual. The real estate industry broke records with sales of 14 percent and spent more than $ 1.5 billion in real estate in the first nine months of 2020.

Still, while corporations are leaving, wealthy people are coming in part because Wyoming has found a place in the public imagination, a professor of sociology at Yale University and Justin Bilrell, author of the book “Billianer Wilderness”.

For the rich, Wyoming survives epidemics and other problems, where open skies and empty pastures can help you clear your mind. Wyoming remained open as the states closed. “We’ve been socially distracted for the entire 130 years that we’ve been a state,” Sen. John Barraso, R-Wooo, said in April on “Fox and Friends,” explaining why Wyoming released Stay-At Did not order the house.

The rich had already shown up by then, and the way they continued to experience the epidemic looks completely different from others in the state. Kovid-19 in Wyoming and elsewhere throughout the country has bare these oddities.

If you live on a multi-million dollar farm in Jackson Hole, you have access to private doctors. When you ran into the state, you could also bring your ventilator with you, Farrell said. But in the state, where there are only 5 people per square mile, residents are sensitive to the labor market and lacked widespread healthcare. The population is older than the average and more health compromised, and many live far away from clinics.

Luxury retreats like Jackson Hole translate into more money spent in the community, of course, but elites who move to Wyoming, who have no income tax, are often doing so for shelter from taxes. Farrell believes that state politicians are “opting for supernaturalism toward their neighbors” and that Wyoming needs to make more efforts to hold large corporations in Wyoming accountable for their resources, ” Use and leave ”and leave the workers, who made them rich.

Visitors wait to see the Old Faithful Eruption on June 15, 2020 in Yellowstone National Park outside Jackson, Wyo.George Frey / Getty Images File

Now, the spread of the virus has spiraled out of control in Wyoming, just as it has in most of the inner west. The state registered a 475 percent increase in cases at the end of October and since then, the spread has continued. More than 21,300 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the onset of the epidemic, of which more than 15,000 occurred on 1 October.

“The crisis is here, and it’s going to get worse,” Farrell said.

In a hard-hit in New York City, 1 in 32 residents contracted Kovid-19. Laramie’s home, in Albany County, Wyoming, is about 1 in 18. The state does not have a masked mandate, but Albany County held a spot last week, only days after a state representative who tested positive for coronavirus died and the governor announced exposure to the virus during a meeting They have had to be isolated after arrival with the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birks are included.

In Converse County, Wyoming, public health nurse manager Darcy Cavardin and her team are working to level the growth curve in their own case. There are 396 cases reported in Frontier County of more than 13,500 people, and as of Friday there were 118 active cases. They are astronomical numbers for such a small community.

“Our hospital is going to be very difficult,” Kaiardin said. The contact tracer is overwhelmed, the virus is finding its way into schools and has a nightmare to apply masking. Much of the spread is from family gatherings, bars and local events.

“Stooped down,” Cayardine said of the collapse of the energy sector. “Add epidemic, and our community and county have been hit very hard.”

Part of the problem is that for a long time, the virus did not materialize very strongly in signaling. In August and September, Wyoming was recording a few dozen cases statewide on a bad day. The crisis that unfolded across the country did not seem to be felt by many residents. And when it did, there was no way to get ready in small hospitals, and not everyone was on board to stop the spill.

“We’re in a community where no one wants to tell them what to do,” she said. “There’s just this pocket of people who don’t want to admit it’s a thing.”

Qardeen said a First Amendment group had recently come to the Office of the Public Health Department in Douglas to harass and make videos of him after being asked to wear masks. Phone lines have been filled with people, many from out of state, shouting horrible things at employees.

“It’s so hard to be in public health right now,” she said.

He also said that meeting needs is difficult. Food banks and local aid resources are more in demand than ever. Contact tracing became so infamous with cases that the county is no longer able to reach people who need quarantine and is asking people with coronovirus to do their contact tracing if they can. People in the county have been left with long-term complications from the disease, and deaths are increasing.

Not far from Caiardin’s office in Douglas, it is the massive farm of Queen Superstar RuPaul Charles, spread over 60,000 acres. RuPaul said before NPR in March that the farm was actually land management. He gives mineral and water rights to throw companies and grazing rights to ranches.

When RuPaul is in Converse County and its surrounding areas, however, he does not worry too much about himself about what is happening around or under him. “I meditate, and I pray,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to a beautiful time. And there’s still a lot on the farm.

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