Gordon critical of FEMA for cancelling Wyoming PPE orders amid COVID-19 shortages - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Gordon critical of FEMA for cancelling Wyoming PPE orders amid COVID-19 shortages

Volunteers examine a completed medical gown before starting their projects on Monday morning. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include further information shared by Wyoming Office of Homeland Security Director Lynn Budd.

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon criticized the federal government during a press conference on Friday, April 3. He said that states have been facing difficulties securing personal protective equipment orders amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Gordon specifically noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been cancelling PPE orders placed by states, including Wyoming.

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“I’ll be very honest about this,” he said. “Every state at this point is finding that the federal government is stepping in and cancelling or orders for PPE. It is very frustrating, extremely frustrating when we have orders that are supposed to be on their way and we find that FEMA, the agency that is supposed to help us, has pre-empted that order.”

Gordon said he was aware that orders were being prioritized in areas more significantly hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“A lot of those orders are being distributed to the east where the hotspots are and we don’t deny that those are important,” he said. New York, Louisiana, Baltimore, place like that. We understand.”

“But as I said to President [Donald] Trump at the beginning of this week: ‘When you are doing this, Mr. President, please remember that you have the opportunity to be able to deliver some of that to Wyoming, to Montana, to North and South Dakota so that we can get ahead of this and we aren’t playing catch-up like the rest of the country.'”

Wyoming Office of Homeland Security Lynn Director Budd said her office was aware of the difficulty with FEMA pre-empting orders which Gordon was referring to.

“We’ve seen it at the state level as well as the county level,” she said. “It is disturbing. We’re doing everything we can to come up with innovative solutions, including ordering directly from China.”

“So we are working very hard to try to find a way to get more supplies to Wyoming and as the governor said, it is not just Wyoming, it is across the nation and we have to figure out how we can get first in line.”

Budd said earlier in the conference as the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Office of Homeland security had distributed the following as of Friday:

  • 47,455 M95 masks
  • 83,650 surgical masks
  • 44,400 gloves
  • 3,804 face shields
  • 14,635 isolation gowns

She said these supplies came from both the state’s inventory as well as the strategic national stockpile. Budd added that the state was “in the process of receiving” a third shipment from the strategic national stockpile.

“That will likely be the last shipment from the SNS,” she added. “That will be distributed in the next coming week.”

Budd said that the state will continue to distribute PPE throughout the state as supplies become available.

She said that the state has placed PPE orders through FEMA. Budd said that states are responsible for 25% of the cost of such orders. That is different from the strategic national stockpile, to which Budd said there is no cost.

Budd said that FEMA representatives are embedded in the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to help assist with the process of placing requests.

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: covid@cnchd.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.