Gov: 'If we get this wrong, it is going to be devastating' - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Gov: ‘If we get this wrong, it is going to be devastating’

Governor Mark Gordon talks during a live online and television briefing on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. (Wyoming PBS via YouTube)

Governor Mark Gordon started his reoccurring live COVID-19 briefings on an optimistic yet somber note.

“I am certain of one thing,” said Gordon near the end of his opening remarks.

“If we get this wrong, it is going to be devastating…more devastating to Wyoming and we will lose that ground that we have taken against this terrible virus.”

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Gordon’s warnings was included in his discussion to slowly allow some businesses to start operating under new regulations on May 1, after the current health orders to combat the spread of coronavirus expires.

Those businesses include gyms, barber shops, hair salons and other personal care services to reopen under new guidelines.

“We have done our best to make sure that our economy continues to be strong, as strong as it can be under these circumstances,” he said.

Wyoming’s economy has suffered like the rest of the world during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which closed businesses and threw millions oe people out of work.

Gordon defended his decision to close many businesses while avoiding more stringent measures, such as shelter-at-home policies. The more relaxed policies have often been met with some criticism from prominent health experts around the state, who’ve warned that rapid spread of the extremely contagious novel coronavirus can cause unnecessary deaths.

But nearly six weeks into Wyoming’s fight against COVID-19, Gordon says he’s ready to take the next step.

“We feel we’ve reached the point that we can relax some of the considerations we’ve had in place,” he said, “but I want to be very clear, our economy is tied to the national and global economy.”

“In both of those cases, there has been a massive hit. So our world, our country absolutely has to get back to work,” he said.

Gordon said Wyoming’s rate of COVID-19 infections to be around four or five percent, with 12 patients currently hospitalized. He added that Wyoming has “sufficient” ICU and ventilator capacities.

“While I wish none of those patients were in hospital, we’re doing pretty well,” he said.

The numbers have helped him to decide that it’s time to slowly move forward.

Gordon, along with State Health Officer Alexia Harrist, urged caution in moving forward with easing restrictions.

“I want to make sure people understand that it would take only one large cluster of cases in an assisted living facility, for example, to create a surge that could put a strain on any one of our healthcare facilities,” he said.

Gordon said he’s talked with numerous restaurant owners on methods to slowly reopen and provide table service eventually. New state guidelines will soon allow a small number of people to gather inside a restaurant while waiting to-go orders, he said.

“This is a campaign, a struggle against a virus, an insidious and invisible enemy.”

“We do not want to surrender any of the ground that we’ve gained.”

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:

  • 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.