By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
As the state recorded its highest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in March, Gov. Mark Gordon on Tuesday renewed his call for residents to take safeguards to prevent the spread of the illness and avoid restrictions on business.
“I’m glad we’re in a region where we’ve had relatively few cases and we’ve done it with open economies,” he said during a news conference. “We’re trying to make sure we find that right balance that doesn’t impinge on people. But make no mistake, this economy can be closed if people are careless.”
The state recorded its 26th coronavirus-related death Tuesday as the number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 64, the largest jump seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming in mid-March. The increase brought to 595 the number of active cases in the state.
In the face of a steady increase in cases — averaging 37 new cases a day for the last two weeks — Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, extended for another two weeks the public health orders that restrict the number of people who can gather at large events and require extra precautionary steps on the part of businesses where people gather.
Gordon said with schools across the state preparing to reopen for the fall, state residents need to be careful to make sure the proper steps are taken to prevent the spread of the illness among students, which could force an economic slowdown as parents take time off to care for their children.
“I hope every Wyoming citizen and every Wyoming parent and every Wyoming student pays attention to the kind of responsible behavior we’ve talked about from the very start,” he said. “We’re at a very tender time in Wyoming.”
Gordon singled out those who are opposed to wearing facemasks to prevent the spread of the virus.
“If you’re dead set on taking down Wyoming’s economy, don’t wear one of these,” he said, indicating his own mask. “These are the things that are going to keep us open and they will keep us moving forward.
“We aren’t going to issue a statewide mask order in any of these new orders,” he continued. “We want to make sure the people of Wyoming take on the responsibilities themselves.”
Gordon used the news conference to give an update on how the state is distributing $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds, saying two programs aimed at helping businesses damaged by the pandemic will launch next week.
In addition, the state is working to set up a system for the distribution of funds to local governments to help them offset the impacts of coronavirus and to better prepare for future health crises.
“We are streamlining and improving that process to make sure that grant process works more efficiently,” he said.
He added officials are also looking at setting aside some money for the state’s agriculture sector to help them offset price declines seen since the pandemic began.