By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming residents have been successful in slowing the spread of coronavirus, but rising numbers of new cases are evidence they cannot abandon the practices that helped the state achieve one of the lowest infection rates in the country, Gov. Mark Gordon said Tuesday.
Gordon, during a news conference, said he was disappointed to see that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has gone up by 106 in the last week, leaving the state with more than 220 active cases.
“It seems to me not long ago we were under 200 (active cases) and that makes me sad because we are now spiking,” he said.
Gordon said he understood the desire for people to get out after their long isolation.
“I know when the grass is green and the horses are fresh, we all want to run out to the pasture and buck,” he said. “This a time when we do not want to run away. This is a time when we want to mind our Ps and Qs.”
By observing state recommendations for preventing the spread of coronavirus, state residents have managed to keep the threat of the illness low enough that Wyoming was able to move closer to resuming normal summer patterns much faster than other states, Gordon said.
“We have the lowest unemployment and one of the lowest rates of infection and one of the lowest rates of death,” he said. “And that’s because of what you’ve done.”
However, he added that some people have disregarded the safeguards in recent weeks, leading to an increase in new cases.
“This talks about the carelessness, recklessness and sometimes the thoughtlessness that can mean we’ll lose ground,” he said.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, said there is reason for optimism for the state’s continued battle against the virus.
She noted that a recent jump in cases in Uinta County, where the number of confirmed cases has more than doubled, was largely the result of a social gathering where people did not observe safeguards.
“This situation illustrates how it doesn’t take much to really change the disease picture in a community,” she said. “This disease has not gone away, so please think of others when you make choices.”
Some other states that have reopened their economies have seen major increases in coronavirus cases, prompting officials there to study putting back in place the restrictions on businesses and personal movement that had been in place earlier.
Gordon said he has not really considered such a move, however.
“I hope we don’t have to do that,” he said. “Dr. Harrist and I have not talked about this. Largely because I believe the people of Wyoming won’t be so stupid as to put us in that kind of quandry.”