The state’s top elected officials will create five task forces aimed at finding solutions to problems posed by the coronavirus both during the illness’ outbreak and after, Gov. Mark Gordon said Monday.
Gordon, in a news conference, announced that the task forces would focus on health, state services and operations, business, transportation and education. Each task force will be chaired by one of the top elected officials.
Gordon said in addition to looking at the threats posed by the coronavirus, the task forces would look at what would likely be a “serious curtailment” of business activities that would result from efforts to stop the spread of the illness.
“It is important as a state and a region that we begin to think about how we re-emerge with a more stable state of affairs, one in a world where we understand business processes must work, people have to go to work, kids must be educated and life must go on,” he said “And that is part of what I’m doing today, not only ascertaining the threats we see from the virus and to the business communities but to begin to lay the groundwork for coming out of what is going to be a prolonged period of very serious curtailment of business activity.”
Wyoming has three confirmed cases of coronavirus, two from Sheridan County and one from Fremont County.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, said as of Monday, the state has run 45 coronavirus tests, while nine more have been run by commercial laboratories and another 100 samples are on their way to the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory for analysis. She added the laboratory has increased its capacity to test samples from 10 per day to 20 to 50.
Gordon said the number of people infected with the disease is likely to up as more testing is conducted as test kits become more available.
“There should be a corresponding number of positives that would come from that, that would be expected,” he said. “Because we’re testing more people, there is a likelihood that there will be, perhaps, an increase in the number of positive tests that we would see. That is normal.”
The key to dealing with the increasing numbers will not be to simply shut down operations, he added.
“We want to make sure Wyoming continues to function efficiently,” he said. “It is not about closing everything, it is about doing things in creative ways to maintain services and connections among people.”
The task force on state services, headed by Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, will look at how the state can continue providing its services without disruption, Gordon said, while the task force on business, chaired by Auditor Kristi Racines, will look into ways the state can help businesses weather the inevitable downturn from the virus outbreak.
Treasurer Curt Meyer will head up the transportation and infrastructure task force and will make sure transportation continues in the state efficiently. Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow will chair the task force on education, which will look at how the state responds to the lengthy break students at every level are taking now. Gordon’s office will work with the state Health Department to make sure the state’s health care providers and hospitals have everything they need to treat the sick.
Gordon also once again took advantage of the news conference to urge calm on the part of the state’s residents.
“In spite of circumstances, it is important for all of us as Wyomingites to insure that we are transitioning from a state where we react to everything that comes over the Internet to one of orderly conduct,” he said. “It is important that we remember Wyoming has always been a resilient and a strong community. It is a community where we look out after our neighbors and it is a community where we think about our actions and exercise common sense.
“Wyoming, I know we’re better than this,” he said.