Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday urged Wyoming’s residents not to panic over the impacts of the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
“I think people need to exercise judgment,” he said. “Panic is not judgment. I’d like people to be mindful of the needs of their fellow citizens. This supply system will start to ramp up.”
Gordon’s comments came after he signed an emergency declaration for the state in the face of the spread of the illness and in the wake of reports from across the state that grocery store shelves have been left empty by people buying large amounts of food and supplies.
Gordon asked residents to think of others — particularly those who may be elderly and must rely on others for their supplies —as they shop.
“I would think people should be a little more patient and a little more mindful in how they acquire their supplies,” he said. “That would help us all.”
Gordon’s emergency declaration was made at the same time as President Donald Trump issued a national emergency declaration. The governor said the state’s declaration would help small businesses access Small Business Administration funds freed up by Trump’s declaration.
“This does not represent an escalation of concern, it represents being proactive and being on-point,” he said of his declaration.
Gordon also recommended the rescheduling of large gatherings around the state, a slight change from the “suggestion” he made Thursday that such gatherings be carefully studied.
“From ‘suggest’ to ‘recommend’ is really reflecting the concerns that people are sharing with us daily,” he said. “If people are asking us, it makes more sense to make it a recommendation.”
But Gordon stressed that “social distancing” remains an important part of the strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said the state still has just one person whose test for coronavirus has been positive — a Sheridan woman.
Harrist said the woman’s test was one of 21 that have been handled by the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory.
Harrist said the Health Department has worked hard to improve the efficiency of the testing and has managed to double the number of people whose tests can be processed in a day from five to 10, largely by reducing the number of samples needed from each patient.
She added it is likely that the lab’s testing capacity will increase as time goes on.
Harrist said at this point, it is likely some undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 exist in the state.
“We have been prioritizing testing the higher risk individuals who, based on travel or exposure toother cases, have a higher likelihood of having COVID-19,” she said. “I have a feeling we will identify more cases of COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks.”