By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
State officials now believe the coronavirus outbreak in the state will peak sometime in May and restrictions on social interactions should be relaxed a little later that month, Gov. Mark Gordon said Friday.
“What we’re looking at is our peak coming sometime in early May and our behaviors, we will look at on a regular basis, but we’re hoping that by sometime in May, we can look at the metrics … and have good news for the people of Wyoming,” he said.
Gordon, speaking during a news conference, repeatedly stressed the need for Wyoming residents to stay home if at all possible, wash their hands regularly, limit trips to grocery stores and practice social distancing and said it appears Wyoming residents are paying more attention to those guidelines.
“We are seeing the effects, we are seeing the benefits,” he said. (Wyoming Department of Transportation) Director (Luke) Reiner showed me statistics on the number of passenger cars that are traveling not only on our interstate highways, but also on our back roads. And that has declined precipitously. We are seeing people take this seriously. Don’t let up. Let’s make sure we beat this thing.”
Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, sad if residents do not comply with the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the illness, the state’s health care system could collapse.
“Our health care systems could be overloaded,” she said. “Deaths that we could have prevented that will occur. These are very serious consequences, but ones we have are a role in being able to prevent if we follow the governor’s recommendations.”
Harrist said she worries the state will not have enough hospital beds or health care workers to take care of the sick if worst-case scenarios for the spread of coronavirus occur.
On other issues, Gordon said he is frustrated by the fact that federal officials have been canceling the state’s orders for personal protective equipment used by health care workers and first responders to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Gordon said many states have seen their orders canceled and the materials they requested from national stores moved instead to cities in the eastern United States considered “hot spots” for the illness.
“It is very frustrating when we have orders that are supposed to be on their way and we find (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the agency that is supposed to help us, has pre-empted that order,” he said.
Gordon said he tried to ask President Donald Trump to send some supplies to other states.
Superintendent Jillian Balow, who joined Gordon in the news conference, announced the state’s school districts are prepared to resume classes for students on Monday, although classes will not take place in schools.
Balow said every district in the state has prepared a plan to teach students at home. She added the at-home education will require the involvement of parents.
Gordon’s news conference came shortly he issued an order for all out-of-state visitors to Wyoming, except those in the state for work, to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Gordon and Harrist also extended the orders closing schools and some businesses until April 30.
Gordon maintained the orders are sufficient to limit interactions between residents and slow the spread of coronavirus, making a statewide “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” order unnecessary.
Gordon referenced such orders in place in other states and noted they contain many exemptions, making them very similar to the orders already in place in Wyoming.
“My point is and has been that people don’t need to have somebody tell them to put a raincoat on when it’s going to rain,” he said. “And believe me, it is raining.”