CASPER, Wyo. — Multiple people gathered, carried signs, and waved at honking vehicles, Thursday April 9, 2020. Literature handed out at the gathering described the event as a “Peaceable Assembly to Defend Our Constitutional Republic.”
A slogan on one sign, printed on the literature, and repeated by the event organizers was “we can save lives and save jobs.”
“It’s a grassroots gathering,” said Cathy Ide. “Seeing our town turn into a ghost town, with all the businesses shuttered. It’s pretty upsetting. I believe it’s not an either-or situation regarding the Wuhan flu, Chinese virus, whatever.”
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Ide says that she hoped the demonstration would encourage Wyoming’s Governor Mark Gordon to lift various closure and restrictions on Wyoming businesses, gathering places, and service providers. Gordon’s first of three orders was placed in mid-March. Currently the restrictions have been extended until the end of April.
“I think we can save Wyoming jobs and we can save Wyoming lives. It’s a matter of self-governance,” Ide said. “I totally respect if somebody wants to self-isolate or quarantine themselves from their family. But not everyone has the means to provide the means for their family working behind their computer from their home.”
Ide said that she didn’t have a particular alternative plan or call for action, but urged Governor Gordon to take back his order, open Wyoming, and reopen businesses.
The closures come in the wake of concerns surrounding a global pandemic of coronavirus caused COVID-19. In addition to closures of some businesses and venues, state and federal health officials are urging Americans to socially distance themselves from other people, keeping approximately six feet of distance between yourselves and others.
“I want to emphasize the point we are all making,” Gordon said during his opening comments to press during an April 3, 2020 briefing. “Stay home. Wash your hands. Maintain six feet of distance between yourselves. Only go to the store as an individual, not as a group. Do not congregate in groups of more than ten. In the store, if you are a store, for heaven’s sake don’t allow people to mingle in the aisles or the checkout lines. Now that is the behavior we need.”
The Governor has resisted further closures and mandated shelter-in-place orders, saying that he believes that Wyoming citizens don’t need mandated shelter-in-place orders, and that they would do the “right thing.”
While some people maintained their distance at Thursday’s gathering in Casper, others did not seem to heed health officials and the Governor’s warning. Several people were observed clustered, gathered, talking, smiling, and joking.
While Ide was speaking with press, a passing vehicle honked and a passenger leaned out the window yelling “six f—ing feet,” but the protesters continued undaunted. Ide apologizing to reporters for the passerby’s outburst.
“I think it would be up to the business owners,” Ide said. “If they’re open to their employees working with them, and employees want to come, and customers want to come and frequent their restaurant- for example- they should be able to do that,” Ide said. “You should be responsible for your health, and I should be responsible with my health. We all make our own decisions. We govern ourselves.”
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.