JACKSON, Wyo. — Citing the return to school—now in its second week in Wyoming—and the holiday weekend just past, Governor Mark Gordon said now is the time to continue vigilance and not make any “drastic changes” to state health orders.
The numbers themselves are particularly scary (3,520 lab-confirmed positives, 631 probable; 3,457 total recoveries, leaving 632 active cases), especially when compared to some other states, but until a better trend is revealed, Gordon and State Health Officer Alexia Harrist, say they feel better about standing pat for now with current health orders set to expire after September 15.
Gordon said the “’600 numbers’ are a little higher than we’d like to see right now.”
The governor added that there are two reasons to take it slow before relaxing what he said were among the least restrictive measures put in place for COVID than in any other state. For one, the governor wanted more time to evaluate what is going on in schools across the state, most of which have entered their second week of in-person classes.
Dr. Harrist said, “As expected, we have seen cases of the virus with both students and staff. But because they were able to follow protocol and measures in place to slow the spread and keep home when sick, no schools have had to close.”
Harrist commended the effort by school, staff, students and their families so far.
“There continues to be come uncertainty of the impacts of in-person learning on virus spread and we want to be cautious.,” Gordon said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We need to make sure we ease into this in a very methodical way.”
In addition, Gordon also wanted more time to learn how Labor Day weekend, and associated surge in travel to Wyoming, may have affected the numbers. This data may not be fully known for up to two weeks.
The governor was encouraged, however, by a chat with Yellowstone superintendent Cam Sholly, who assured Gordon the park had experienced only five or six known cases with some 2.4 million visitors through the gates so far this summer.
Above all, Gordon said he did not want to go backwards and “lose the high ground” gained through careful measures. Something he said could be devastating to “businesses, schools, and citizens of Wyoming.”
He also cited the University of Wyoming as one example of the importance of remaining ever vigilant. The college experienced a spike in cases prompting the shutdown of campus after it had opened for in-person instruction.
Harrist expressed frustration that good hygiene and diligence has allowed various largescale events to go off without a problem, yet smaller after-parties and other preventable situations have resulted in COVID being allowed to spread.
Harrist shared positive news that a dual test will be available in Wyoming this fall that will allow someone to be tested for both COVID and seasonal influenza—distinguishing between the two and utilizing the same test sample.
Gordon closed by urging small business that have not enrolled for relief and mitigation funds through the Wyoming Business Council to do so immediately. Time and funds are running out. To date, 94% of the money available in the associated funds has been requested, according to WBC.
Gordon closed by echoing the words of Harrist, who said, “I know people are tired of this, and I am too, frankly.”
“But the work you’re doing is being rewarded,” Gordon reminded.