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Days after wife’s COVID death, husband loses his life

By Clair McFarland

Riverton Ranger

Via- Wyoming News Exchange

RIVERTON — COVID-19 has struck multiple members of yet another Northern Arapaho family, as a wife and husband both died this week after contracting the virus.

The first three fatalities in Fremont County also were within one tribal family.

Billy Crazythunder was hospitalized out-of-county and on a ventilator when his wife, Susan, died Sunday, Aug. 2. She was 75 years old and had what the Wyoming Department of Health described as exacerbating health conditions.

Billy Crazythunder, whom friends described as having had health complications for several years prior to his death, died about three days after his wife, who had cared for him steadily in their latter years together.

“We offer our most heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of this couple – it is a staggering loss anytime family elders are lost,” said Northern Arapaho Business Council chairman Lee Spoonhunter in a Thursday statement.

The two were married for more than 50 years.

“They had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and were known for their committed devotion,” the tribe wrote.

Of the 12 Fremont County fatalities associated with COVID-19, all have been Northern Arapaho Tribal community members. One of the 12, John Brown Sr, was enrolled as Northern Cheyenne but made his home with the Northern Arapaho on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Billy Crazythunder was described by the tribe as a “non-member” but was part of the community, as his wife was enrolled in the tribe.

The reservation has been subject to a conditional stay-at-home order since early April, not long after the viral genesis in Wyoming.

In a Thursday release by Fremont County public health information officer Mike Jones, who also serves on the Fremont County Commission, one local hospitalization was reported.

Jones noted that his statement uses data from the Wyoming Department of Health.

The past two weeks have seen a drop in positivity percentage, down to 4.9 percent from 5.9.

He said 26 tests have come back positive during those two weeks.

Jones reported 428 confirmed positives countywide since viral monitoring began in March, with 371 – or 86 percent – having recovered.

“Fremont County is still experiencing an increase in cases throughout the county,” the statement reads. “Positive test numbers and probable cases where social distancing and other health guidance are not being adhered to are driving the increase in positive test numbers.”

Continued vigilance “within your social gatherings” is encouraged by the county health entity.