Gov. Mark Gordon announced today that he is extending the state’s current COVID-19-restrictions through the end of April, while adding a new requirement that anyone who enters Wyoming from …
Gov. Mark Gordon announced today that he is extending the state’s current COVID-19-related restrictions through the end of April, while adding a new requirement that anyone who enters Wyoming from another state must quarantine themselves for two weeks.
Gordon’s decision means that schools, colleges, coffee shops, bars, gyms, theaters, salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and some other businesses will remain closed until at least May, while Wyomingites will generally remain prohibited from gathering in groups of 10 or more.
Additionally, the governor tightened the state's restrictions on restaurants. From now through at least the end of the month, they may only provide curbside, drive-thru or delivery service, with customers no longer be allowed to enter a restaurant's building.
At a Friday news conference, Gordon urged residents to take the pandemic seriously and to "do the right thing" by following the restrictions.
“That's how we protect lives — that's how you protect lives," he said, adding that, "The decision to extend these orders is not an easy one. I hear every day, every day about people that are out of work, about people that are losing their homes, but it is the correct one to protect the public health."
Gordon again urged Wyomingites to stay home whenever possible, to wash their hands and practice extra hygiene, stay 6 feet away from other people, don't allow children to gather up for playdates and limit necessary shopping to one person in a household. He it "is critical that we behave this way."
While there some medical professionals and others have called on the governor to go further and issue a "shelter-in-place" order, Gordon criticized media outlets for focusing on the disagreement and heatedly argued that doing so would accomplish nothing beyond the orders already in place. He noted that other states have included multiple exemptions to their orders.
"If you're waiting for me to issue a 'shelter-in-place' order when you have ... [doctors] telling you to stay home, and I'm telling you to stay home, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting for, 'Mother, may I?'" Gordon said. "Or are you taking care of yourself and practicing the common sense that we expect?"
In his new directive, the governor also ordered that anyone who visits or returns to Wyoming from another state or country must “immediately self-quarantine for 14 days.” If they’re going to be in Wyoming for less than 14 days, they must quarantine until they leave. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock had issued a similar order on Monday, asking people to not visit the state for the time being.
In his Friday directive, Gordon ordered hoteliers, landlords and those who offer short-term rentals through services like Airbnb to post the notice of the mandatory quarantine online and at their accommodation.
“We know that travel from another state or country is a source of COVID-19 infections in Wyoming," Gordon said. “Visitors from neighboring states have strained the resources of many Wyoming communities so we are asking them to do the right thing to protect the health of our citizens and the resources of our rural healthcare facilities.”
The new self-quarantine directive does not apply to people visiting for work purposes, those traveling through Wyoming to another destination, volunteers assisting with the pandemic, citizens returning from necessary medical appointments or parents transporting children as part of custody arrangements.
Gordon said he was aligning the state with recommendations from President Donald Trump, who earlier this week similarly advised Americans across the country to take precautions through April 30 to "slow the spread." Park County, meanwhile, has more restrictive rules in place for gatherings and day cares that were just extended through April 17; whether the county will extend its restrictions remains through the end of the month has not yet been determined.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with the department of health, said COVID-19 is spreading in Wyoming communities and that social distancing measures remain the most effective way to slow it down.
The governor added that state officials expect the pandemic to peak in Wyoming sometime in early May.
"This is the worst crisis I hope we ever face in our lifetimes, and I expect it will be the worst," Gordon said in concluding Friday's presser, adding, "It's across the spectrum from sickness to economic health to people's recovery to the state's future. All of these things are big issues and we'll face them together. And I do know, working together, we can face down this terrible thing. And I do believe we can build a better state."