Bill Sniffin: Coronavirus Is Once-in-a-lifetime Event For Most Residents Of Wyoming

Literally, thousands of small business people are scrambling, as they try to figure out a way to stay open, serve customers, and keep their workers busy.

Bill Sniffin

March 16, 20203 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

These are possibly the most unusual times of our lives, both globally and locally.

In my hometown of Lander, the state’s second presumptive case of Coronavirus was named. A 68-year old wheelchair-bound man is in the Lander hospital being treated. He is a stroke victim and had been hospitalized for two weeks back in December for pneumonia, which is typical of the type of people expected to suffer the most from this disease.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, an epidemiologist for the Wyoming Department of Health said the man had not traveled, meaning someone else may have exposed him.

The victim is from Riverton but had been a resident of the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander for some time. That center has about 27 residents right now.

Showboat owner Ron Foote said that this is a terrible season for colds and ailments. He said two of his key employees were down with an ear infection and a bad cold. He said they strive to keep their facility clean and disinfect everything.

Even as I write this on Sunday evening, the Wyoming coronavirus story and the world story is changing rapidly.

If this pandemic goes poorly, could it cost Donald Trump reelection for president? His main pandemic spokesman said on Meet the Press Sunday morning that worst case could see a million deaths. How could that be?

Another media pundit pointed out that Trump, former Vice-President Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders all fit the profile of the folks who would get sickest from this bug. Trump is 73, Biden is 77, and Sanders is 78. What would happen if all three got sick, she asked on CNN Sunday afternoon?

All three on Sunday claimed to be free of the virus and have cut back on all personal appearances.

Because of our age and health issues, my wife Nancy and I are maintaining a self-quarantine in our home in Lander. Sure, seems odd to be “in jail,” but then again, the alternative could be so much worse.

Incredible that there are no church services, even.

Coincidentally, the state legislature has just wrapped up its budget session. Its members must feel like victims of a drive-by shooting. The entire world changed. The stock market crashed, crushing the state’s ability to generate revenue from its investments. Oil prices tanked thanks to a price war between the Russians and the Saudi’s. The whole world changed over a 72-hour period.

It appears inevitable that the Legislature will be convening sometime after the April CREG income report comes through. They may meet in some kind of virtual fashion. My local legislator Rep. Lloyd Larsen was really proud of the budget they had passed. “It was the best I’ve seen,” he said. Now what do they do?

Wyoming’s schools are now closed. Just about every event from the State Basketball Tournament to a local Rotary Club meeting has been cancelled.

Literally, thousands of small business people are scrambling, as they try to figure out a way to stay open, serve customers, and keep their workers busy.

This whole pandemic is like a bad science fiction movie. I have lived on this planet for seven decades and have truly never seen anything like this. It is unprecedented. You can’t make this up. And we do not know what the ending will be. Let’s hope it is a happy one.

In the meantime, folks, practice good habits and stay healthy.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.