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

in Business/Coronavirus/Food/News/Wyoming
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 Coronavirus/Mark Gordon/News

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 Coronavirus/News

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 Coronavirus/News

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.

Park County Joins Laramie, Teton In Closing Businesses

in Coronavirus/News

Park County on Thursday became the third county in the state to order the closure of businesses likely to attract more than 10 people.

The county joined Teton and Laramie in closing bars, theaters, museums and fitness clubs in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“It has been determined that a method to control the community spread of the coronavirus is to limit large gatherings of people,” said the order issued by Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County’s public health officer. 

“This order may reduce the likelihood that individuals that may have been exposed to the COVID-19 will spread the virus to others.”

In all three counties, restaurants were allowed to remain open, but only for curbside takeout or drive-through service.

The Park County order said the businesses that remain open should make an attempt to keep customers separated from each other and from employees by at least six feet.

The Park County order also closed child care centers.

Laramie County Orders Bars, Theaters, Fitness Centers Closed

in Coronavirus/News

Laramie County joined Teton County on Thursday in ordering the closure of businesses where people are likely to gather, including bars, theaters, museums and fitness clubs in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Dr. Stanley Hartman, Laramie County’s health officer, cited the three confirmed cases of coronavirus in Cheyenne in issuing the order to close the businesses throughout the county effective immediately.

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“The emergency order recognizes the challenges that today’s public health order puts on many businesses in the county, but due to the rapid increase in cases it is necessary to begin closings (Thursday),” the order said.

“We recognize that these are extraordinary actions, but COVID-19 is a serious public health challenge,” Hartman said in a statement. “This decision was not taken lightly and will hopefully increase positive outcomes for our community.”

The action was supported by Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr and City Council President Dr. Mark Rinne.

The two noted in a prepared statement that COVID-19 appears to have a higher mortality rate and is more virulent than other virus strains.

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“The worst-case scenario is that the disease spikes so rapidly that our ability to treat patients is overwhelmed,” the two said. “Those are the reasons that we have to take such aggressive measures.

“We want to express sympathy for those directly affected by this decision,” they continued. “We know that the next few weeks will be difficult for all of us. While we are disappointed in the decision to restrict businesses in Cheyenne, we understand the decision.”

Like the order in Teton County, the Laramie County order follows President Donald Trump’s recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus.

Businesses affected in Cheyenne, Pine Bluffs, Burns, Carpenter and Albin include:



Self-serve buffets

Salad bars

Unpackaged self-serve food services

Golf courses and country clubs

Communal pools

Hot tubs

Locker rooms

Sauna rooms

Fitness centers


Tasting rooms

The closure was also targeted at any other similar establishments or indoor recreational faciliites.

Restaurants may remain open under the order, but only for curbside takeout or drive-through service. All dine-in services will be prohibited.

WYDOT to Work With Highway Patrol to Make Sure COVID-19-Related Supplies Get Through

in Coronavirus/News/Transportation

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) announced it will work with the Wyoming Highway Patrol to ensure COVID-19-related supplies are delivered despite any blizzard conditions which could hit the state.

“In the event of a road closure, our maintenance crews and the Wyoming Highway Patrol will work with officials to ensure COVID-19-related supplies get through. We will do everything in our power to ensure these vital supplies get to their communities,” said WYDOT Director K. Luke Reiner. 

Health officials or suppliers needing assistance transporting COVID-19-related materials or supplies on a closed road are asked to contact Patrol Dispatch at (307) 777-4321.

According to Wyoming’s weatherman, Don Day, the roughest activity will happen in southeastern Wyoming.

“Southeastern Wyoming and the I-80 corridor will have really nasty windy icy conditions today and tonight,” Day said. “The heaviest stuff, however, will fall south of the border.”

“Wind is going to be a problem,” he said. “Along Interstate 80, we will see winds between 30 – 40mph and higher. Along I-25 in southern Wyoming, we will see high winds too.

Day said high winds will occur along I-80 in Sweetwater and Carbon counties as well.

Cheyenne Loses Air Service Due to Coronavirus

in Coronavirus/News

The City of Cheyenne will lose air service beginning April 6. Airport Director Tim Barth made the announcement late Wednesday on its Facebook page.

“Cheyenne air service will be temporarily suspended as of April 6th due to the unprecedented economic and social effects of the coronavirus.

“This disappointing news follows a string of successes. Since launching round-trip American Eagle flights operated by SkyWest Airlines to Dallas-Fort Worth on November 4, 2018, Cheyenne’s commercial air service has drawn over 40,000 passengers.

“That number is way beyond industry projections,” says Airport Director Tim Barth. “Cheyenne is definitively on the map in terms of air service in a way that it hasn’t been in years.”

“The community’s embrace of the route and the new airport terminal is what have made them such big successes,” adds Wendy Volk, President of CRAFT. “That’s why once the dust settles, and the U.S. economy recovers, our community’s air service will too.”

“While air service is expected to return, there’s no timeline yet. As of now, flights will be suspended on April 6, 2020. The last flight before the pause will be from Cheyenne to DFW that morning. The National Guard and non-commercial general aviation are not affected at this point.

“This news comes as the news surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to unfold. A significant number of domestic commercial flights are being cancelled. The nationwide reduction in routes is having a dramatic negative impact on all airports.

“The decision to pause service until further notice was jointly arrived at by the Cheyenne Regional Airport and American Eagle operated by SkyWest.

“The economic ramifications of this situation are beyond anyone’s control,” says Barth. “However, our duty to the health and safety of passengers, and to fiduciary good sense, makes this difficult decision a little easier.”

“Some flights may still appear as bookable online, but those are in the process of being taken out of the system.

“The Cheyenne Regional Airport will provide updates as events develop.”

Wyoming Coronavirus: Health Officials Announce Teton County, Wyoming COVID-19 Case

in Coronavirus/News

In light of the first COVID-19 diagnosis in Teton County, WY, public officials from the Teton County Health Department, St. John’s Health, and other agencies are emphasizing the importance of continued community mitigation measures to manage the severity and duration of this illness in Teton County.

Local officials were notified late today by the Wyoming Department of Health that an adult male, over the age of 60, and living in Teton County, has tested positive for COVID-19. The test was performed at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory, which is part of the Wyoming Department of Health. He contacted his provider due to flu-like symptoms and was evaluated via a telehealth visit before being tested. He self-isolated after he became ill and continues to self-isolate at home while being monitored by health officials.

“Though this is our first case, we do not expect it will be our last. I encourage community members to stay vigilant with protective measures as we work together to minimize the spread of this illness in Teton County and the region,” said Travis Riddell, MD, Teton District Health Officer.

“We are hopeful that this individual will make a fast and full recovery, and our first priorities will be to ensure he receives the care he needs, to monitor his close contacts for symptoms, and to work closely with him to identify and evaluate other individuals who may have had exposure,” said Jodie Pond, Director of the Teton County Health Department. The Wyoming Department of Health will lead the contact investigation process.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners to implement procedures for patients and providers to help minimize spread of illness and the risk to health care workers. With the cooperation of the public, these efforts will help preserve critical health infrastructure and supplies so we can take care of those affected, the most critically ill, and our other patients,” said St. John’s Health CEO Paul Beaupre, MD.

As part of its emergency readiness plan, St. John’s Health has implemented a call-line to screen patients. If you have fever, cough, or influenza-like symptoms; if you have had close contact with a person known to have COVID-19; or if you have traveled within the last 14 days to an area with widespread transmission, you should recover at home and call your provider or St. John’s Health at 307-739-4898 x3 for a phone evaluation. You should not come to St. John’s medical clinics. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, including difficulty breathing, you should dial 911 or self-transport to the Emergency Department at 625 E. Broadway and call 307-739-4898 x1 for instructions prior to your arrival.

Local agencies will continue to provide community education about mitigation efforts such as social distancing. Evidence from other affected cities and countries clearly shows that areas that initiated mitigation measures prior to widespread community transmission are significantly better able to address their community’s needs.

Coronavirus Detected In Military Member Assigned To F.E. Warren

in Coronavirus/News

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A member of the military assigned to F.E. Warren Air Force Base has tested positive for the coronavirus, the base announced.

The base, in a news release, said the military member had just returned from outside of Wyoming. 

The individual self-quarantined and did not go on base after returning to Wyoming, the release said.

It was unclear whether the individual was among the four people tested positive for the illness in Cheyenne or whether this was a new case.

Base Commander Col. Peter Bonetti said the implementing proactive measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

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