By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The impacts of the coronavirus in Wyoming are likely to last far beyond two weeks and the state may have to put more restrictions in place to slow the spread of the virus, Gov. Mark Gordon said Monday.
Gordon, speaking during a news conference, said the business closures and restrictions imposed on social gatherings by state officials may help reduce the extent of COVID-19’s impact.
“I will say this isn’t going to be over in two weeks,” he said. “This is going to impact life in Wyoming for a long time to come. We are going to have community spread (of the virus), but the actions people take now will make a difference.”
Gordon’s comments came as the number of coronavirus cases in the state grew to 28, but also in the wake of news that two Fremont County residents diagnosed with the illness have fully recovered and have been removed from isolation.
Many Wyoming businesses have been ordered closed and the state has banned all gatherings of more than 10 people in attempts to slow the spread of the virus.
Gordon said the willingness of Wyoming residents to live with the orders will help determine whether more restrictions are needed in the future.
“I think it’s really important that every Wyoming citizen understand that it is their responsibility to exercise their right to do the right thing,” he said. “Our hope is that people will take this seriously, understand what the consequences are. It is absolutely imperative that we address this quickly so that we don’t overrun our medical capacities.”
Gordon also said hoped Wyoming could avoid the kind of orders for people to “shelter in place” and not leave their homes that have been issued in other states.
“At this point, we do not believe a shelter in place order is necessary,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is to find a balance that respects private property rights, personal liberties and prudent health standards. We can hopefully look to Wyoming being a bellwether state that leads the nation in not having to proceed with shelter in place. But that can only come with citizens stepping up and doing their part with social distancing, maintaining good hygiene and doing their best to meet these orders.”
Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, also gave updates during the news conference on progress being made in testing people believe to have coronavirus.
Harrist said the state Public Health Laboratory can now complete about 100 tests a day for coronavirus, but added the state is also running sort of the supplies needed to conduct tests.
Also speaking at the conference was state Auditor Kristi Racines, who is heading up one of Gordon’s five task forces dealing with the impacts of coronavirus.
Racines’ task force is looking at the impacts to the state’s business sector. She said the task force has broken up its focus to three areas— providing support for the state’s businesses, support for the state’s employees and support for the state’s financial and banking industries.
Gordon closed by urging Wyoming residents to follow the advice to stay home if possible, limit trips and remain a safe distance away from others.
“This is a battle, this is a war,” he said. “And as we address this war, we will be victorious if we work together.