Apologizing later for what he called an “outburst,” Gov. Mark Gordon spent the first five minutes of his press conference on Friday defending why he would not issue a “stay-at-home” order in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gordon said his three statewide orders closing schools, some businesses, and prohibiting gathering of more than 10 people was enough and an example of “Wyoming values.”
“Our orders talk less and say more,” he said.
Raising his voice more than once, Gordon said his call to “stay home, wash your hands, maintain social distancing, don’t mob the stores, or allow your kids to gather for playdates” accomplishes the same thing as the official mandate.
“That’s essentially what a stay-at-home order is,” he said. “Are you waiting for ‘Mother may I? Or are you taking care of yourself and practicing the common sense we expect?”
The governor said the focus on whether he issues such an order — something that Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Donald Trump’s leading medical advisor, has urged every state to do — isn’t helpful to his message but “makes for a good headline.”
Although members of the medical community including Dr. David Wheeler, President of the Wyoming Medical Society and Dr. Mark Dowell, an infectious disease specialist at the Wyoming Medical Center, have publicly disagreed with Gordon on the issue, the governor said they are united in a common goal.
“We are all saying the same thing,” he said. “Stay at home, wash your hands, maintain six feet of distance between yourselves, only go to the store as an individual – not as a group – do not congregate in groups of more than 10, and if you (run) a store, for heaven’s sake, don’t allow shoppers to mingle in the aisles or checkout lines.
“That is the behavior that we need,” he continued. “That is why we agree and that is why we behave this way.”
Earlier in the day, Dr. Dowell told the Casper Star-Tribune that he hoped Gordon would issue a stronger order.
“I hope (Gordon) does it,” he said. “I don’t know. I am now pushing. I don’t really want to have to do it in this county, but I have the — I may have to. I’m hoping the governor will step forward here.”
After Gordon’s news conference, Wheeler said he agreed with the governor’s emphasis on the best ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but argued an official “shelter-in-place” order would be more effective.
“I appreciate the energy and emotion (Gordon) put into that statement,” he said. “In that sense, he and I completely agree. We recognize that any law or order won’t be followed by 100% of the people, but more people will stay home if they are directed by the governor to do so.”