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Lander Emergency Room Physician: “I’m Afraid We Could Get Overwhelmed”

in News/Coronavirus

Family nurse practitioner Kristy Brown Cardinal at the Lander Medical Clinic posted this note from Sage West Medical Center Emergency Room physician Dr. Tom Rangitsch on her Facebook page today.

A note from Dr. Tom Rangitsch who is an ER physician at Sage West Lander. This post is from this morning…… Please…

Posted by Kristy Brown- Cardinal on Monday, March 23, 2020

“I don’t want to sound like a harbinger of doom. There has been quite enough of that lately and I wish I could focus on the positive. But the situation in my small-town hospital is not rosy.

“We are seeing increasing cases, sick people with bad disease. It’s affecting people who are not old and who do not have underlying illnesses.

“I am really afraid that we could be overwhelmed at some point in the not so distant future. The nurses and the doctors here are doing exceptional work and should be commended for their care and compassion. We are being constantly exposed and we don’t have a deep bench to draw from when we foul out.

“It is very difficult for those who have been affected with loss of employment and the opportunity for social interaction. But we need to try to flatten the curve.

“Please do your part to prevent the spread of this terrible disease. I hope I am wrong and this is just my pessimistic nature looking at the negative side of things. It’s been a rough night for me and maybe I’ll have a better outlook tomorrow.”

Liz Cheney to Chinese Foreign Ministry: “How About You Stop Eating Bats?”

in News/Coronavirus

Liz Cheney isn’t a fan of the Chinese government’s spin on the coronavirus outbreak.

That became even more evident on Friday evening when she responded to continuing propaganda offered by Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying over Twitter.

Chunying, who has been compared to the Iraq War’s “Baghdad Bob,” came under fire from the State Department earlier on Friday for spreading misinformation about supposed transparency from the Chinese government about the virus.

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She said China first told the U.S. of the outbreak on January 3 but the State Department didn’t alert Americans in Wuhan until January 15.

“And now blame China for delay? Seriously” she wrote.

The State Department responded:”By Jan. 3, Chinese authorities had already ordered #COVID19 virus samples destroyed, silenced Wuhan doctors, and censored public concerns online.”

Cheney offered a more blunt response. In wrestling parlance, she answered from the “top-ropes”.

“How about you stop eating bats. Seriously.” Cheney wrote.

Wyoming Records 23rd Coronavirus Case

in News/Coronavirus

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s coronavirus case count increased to 23 Saturday as the Wyoming Department of Health reported a newly diagnosed case in Carbon County.

The case was the first for the county. No further details about the diagnosis were immediately available.

On Friday, the state’s coronavirus case count went up by four with one new case each in Natrona, Teton, Fremont and Campbell counties.

The increase in case counts follows predictions by state officials that the number of confirmed cases would rise with increased testing in Wyoming’s population. 

According to the Health Department, by Saturday morning, 409 tests had been processed at the state Public Health Laboratory and commercial labs had conducted 31 tests.

Wyoming Coronavirus: New Order Prohibits Gatherings Of 10 Or More People

in News/Coronavirus

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Gatherings of 10 or more people in Wyoming have been prohibited by an order of the state’s health officer.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, in an order issued Friday, prohibited groups of more than 10 from gathering in one area until at least April 3.

“It is an absolute fact that social distancing slows the growth of coronavirus disease,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a news release announcing his support for the order. “I very much appreciate the willingness of our state’s residents to comply with this action. Particularly because it is now becoming clear that young adults 18 to 50 are also at risk of being hospitalized from COVID-19.”

The order does not require the closure of any additional businesses from Harrist’s order on Thursday calling for the closure of bars, theaters, gyms and other businesses likely to draw more than 10 people.

It also does not apply to grocery stories, retail businesses, gatherings at private residences, livestock auctions, government facilities, relief centers, truck stops or long-term care facilities.

It was not immediately clear how the order would be enforced.

Harrist urged Wyoming residents to obey the order to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“People of any age can spread this disease to others who are especially vulnerable to more serious or life-threatening illness,” she said. “We’ve recommended limits on gatherings, this order is an official step to put those recommendations in to action. Slowing and limiting the spread of the disease is our goal.”

Gov. Gordon Signs Executive Order to Expedite Delivery of Coronavirus Supplies

in News/Coronavirus

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon signed an executive order on Friday that will expedite the commercial transportation of coronavirus-related supplies to communities in Wyoming and throughout the country.

Executive Order 2020-3 extends hours of service restrictions and waives size and weight permit fees if a commercial vehicle is transporting coronavirus supplies. This applies to drivers transporting essential emergency relief supplies to affected areas to provide aid, comfort and security.

“It’s absolutely essential that we as a state are doing all we can to make sure these critical supplies aren’t delayed in transport to areas that need them,” Gordon said in a news release. “We need to get these items where they need to go as quickly as possible.”

Commercial vehicles are still required to get a permit if they are oversized and/or overweight, but the fee will be waived. All safety measures will continue to be followed.

“We are grateful to Gov. Gordon for assisting these commercial carriers in getting vital supplies to communities that are in need,” said K. Luke Reiner, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation. “This executive order will ensure communities within our state and across the nation stay operational and receive their much-needed supplies.”

Commercial carriers can obtain information on these permits at the appropriate Wyoming Highway Patrol ports of entry. The ports can also fax or email those forms. For a list of the ports of entry, visit

Tourism officials see need for closure order

in News/Coronavirus/Tourism

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The state order closing down businesses where people are likely to gather is regrettable, but understandable under the circumstances, the leaders of two Wyoming hospitality industry groups said Friday.

Mike Moser, executive director for the Wyoming State Liquor Association, and Chris Brown, executive director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, both said it is important to take action now to cut short the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

“This is obviously an unprecedented time in Wyoming and our nation’s history,” Brown said. “It is going to be very difficult for our businesses to endure and adapt. If there is a silver lining, I hope these extreme measures result in reducing the longevity of this virus so we can get back to business as usual as quickly as possible.”

“We’ve got hundreds of businesses closed and thousands of employees unemployed or underemployed,” Moser said. “But we understand the need for the governor’s actions.”

Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, on Thursday issued an order closing all of the state’s bars, theaters, child care centers, gyms and other businesses likely to draw more than 10 people at once. The measure, endorsed by Gov. Mark Gordon, is seen as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurants were allowed to remain open only for curbside takeout and drive-through service. Tourism is Wyoming’s second-largest industry and the closures are expected to have an impact on the state’s economy. Brown said he hopes the closure leads to an end to the spread of the illness by Wyoming’s summer tourism season.

“I guess if there’s another silver lining, at least it’s March and not July,” he said. “I hope measures like this will result in this situation concluding sooner rather than later.”

Grocery stores announce special hours for vulnerable adults, limit daily hours

in News/Coronavirus/Food/Wyoming/Business
Apple City Festival

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbing every day, grocery stores across the country have recognized a specific need among customers. 

Certain groups, such as the elderly, people who have underlying health conditions and pregnant women, are the most susceptible to the coronavirus. With the addition of people panic buying unnecessary extra supplies, those vulnerable adults are often risking their health to shop in grocery stores with empty aisles. 

But more and more grocery stores across the country and in Wyoming have pledged to create special hours for these high-risk individuals, allowing them to come into stores for a certain amount of time and shop at a time they can avoid large groups of people. 

Walmart announced an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday until April 28. Customers 60 and older will have the opportunity to begin shopping one hour before the store opens for the general public. The pharmacy and vision center will be open at this time, as well.

Albertsons and Safeway will reserve two hours every Tuesday and Thursday morning, 7 to 9 a.m., for vulnerable shoppers, including seniors, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. 

Dollar General will designate the first hour at all of its stores as open daily to senior shoppers. 

Big Lots will reserve the first hour of each day for seniors and those most at-risk concerning the virus.

Many of these chains, such as Walmart and Albertsons, are also limiting their daily hours to help combat the spread of the virus.

Statewide Shutdown: Governor Shuts Down Bars, Gyms, Museums, Other Public Places

in News/Mark Gordon/Coronavirus

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Bars, fitness clubs and museums and other public spaces were ordered closed Thursday by the state’s health officer in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Mark Gordon announced Thursday afternoon that the order from Dr. Alexia Harrist will require the closure of public places including schools, theaters, bars, coffee shops, cafeterias, self-serve buffets, gyms, conference rooms and museums through April 3.

Restaurants will be allowed to remain open under the order, but only for curbside takeout and drive-through service.

Gordon had said earlier he would leave the decision on whether to close businesses in the hands of local officials. Three counties, Teton, Laramie and Park, had taken such action on Wednesday and Thursday, but Harrist’s order encompasses the full state.

“This governor has never been inclined to overstep local authority, but these are unprecedented times,” Gordon said in a news release. “It is critical that there is uniformity across the state in how social distancing measures are implemented.”

Harrist joined officials in saying she understood the hardship that the closures would create for people employed by the businesses.

“But it is an important step to help them avoid becoming ill and to help them avoid spreading COVID-19 to those who are most vulnerable,” she said in the news release. “We should all work together to help keep our friends and neighbors safe.”

The Wyoming Department of Health has confirmed 18 coronavirus cases in the state.

Wyoming Distilleries Making Hand Sanitizer

in News/Coronavirus

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne distillery is turning its focus from the making of alcohol to the manufacture of hand sanitizer.

Chronicles Distilling in Cheyenne is getting ready to begin mixing its alcohol with several other ingredients to produce hand sanitizer for use by health care staffers and workers at Cheyenne’s Holly Frontier Refinery.

Chase Lesher, who owns Chronicles with his brother Aaron, said he noticed that many other distilleries were making hand sanitizer to help meet the demand created by the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We were already looking at doing this because so many distilleries were … then it slowly just evolved and blew up,” Lesher said. “Right now, we’re working on producing the alcohol. Hopefully we’ll have enough in a week to supply (Emergency Medical Services) and Holly.”

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has agreed to waive provisions of federal law to allow distillers to make hand sanitizers or ethanol for use in hand sanitizers without prior approval.

Pine Bluffs Distilling is also manufacturing hand sanitizer, however, no one could be reached at the company.

Federal guidelines for the manufacture call for mixing alcohol with glycerol, hydrogen peroxide and distilled or boiled water.

Chronicles has the alcohol and is getting help with the rest, Lesher said, with assistance purchasing the ingredients coming from Holly Frontier and Cheyenne’s Snowy Elk Coffee Co.

Lesher said he was contacted by Snowy Elk’s founder, Scott Gondzar, about donating to help Chronicles buy the ingredients for sanitizer.

“He’s been an amazing help,” he said. “There’s no way I could have done this by myself.”

Also assisting with the ingredients is Holly Frontier, which needs the sanitizer to keep its employees healthy.

In exchange for the ingredients, Holly will get sanitizer from Chronicles, Lesher said.

The last piece of the puzzle was packaging and Lesher said thanks to information from Holly Frontier, he was able to order 2,014 bottles from Container and Packaging.

“I ordered all they had left,” Lesher said.

In addition to Holly, the sanitizer will go to Cheyenne EMS, which will help distribute it to personnel and institutions in need of the material, Lesher said.

“They will distribute it to certain health care providers that need it and places like hospitals and rest homes,” he said.

Lesher said Chronicles should have all the ingredients in place and start making sanitizer in one to one and one-half weeks.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso: We Must Help Wyoming People

in News/Coronavirus

Government intervention to provide assistance during the coronavirus epidemic is necessary, according to U.S. Sen. John Barrasso.

Barrasso, speaking on Fox News, expressed his support for the Emergency Coronavirus Response Act shortly after its approval Wednesday.

“I think of our small businesses in Wyoming and that’s about every business in Wyoming,” Barrasso said. “You want to make sure that their employees are taken care of. And we want to make sure that by the time this is over, that these businesses have the cash on hand to come back and open again and don’t find themselves in a bad situation.”

The bill will guarantee paid leave for the employees of smaller businesses if the employees have to leave work to care for a child. It also provides for special paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work because they catch the virus or are quarantined for it.

Barrasso also signaled support for the next phase of spending packages to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The legislation is expected to cost over $1 trillion and includes direct cash payments to all American citizens.

“There are immediate needs and the government has a responsibility to step in,” he said. “We need to take care of the employees as well as the small businesses because small businesses supply 75% of the jobs in America.”

Slowing the spread of the virus is the most important thing, he said, “because the economy will not recover until we have the virus under control.”

To that end, the senator said social distancing measures and cancellation of events is necessary. 

The key, he said, will be how closely younger people comply with government mandates and recommendations because although they may have a stronger immune system, people they come in contact with, like the elderly, are more at risk.

“The millennials will make the difference in terms of slowing the spread of the disease,” Barrasso said.  “People who are older and have medical conditions are the most at risk. And that’s why the social distancing is so very important.

“If you look at South Korea, that is the model that we would like to have for the United States rather than what we’ve seen in Wuhan and Italy,” he added.

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