Echoing the sentiments of other governors throughout the U.S., Governor Mark Gordon issued a plea to Wyoming residents to stay at and work from home in a press conference Wednesday afternoon in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as state-wide cases nearly doubled overnight.
When the press conference began at 1 p.m., there were 41 cases in the state, per Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) including one in Campbell County. By the time he was done speaking, three more cases had been reported, bringing the state’s total to 44, compared to 29 Tuesday morning, with Albany County reporting its first case. This leap represents the biggest increase within 24 hours in the state.
The escalation prompted Governor Gordon to ask residents to use common sense and stay at home.
“I am here today to urge Wyoming citizens to stay home whenever possible, only going out when absolutely necessary,” Gov. Gordon said. “It is imperative to flatten the curve by staying home.”
To this end, the Governor encouraged Wyomingites to only leave their homes for “essential” purposes such as picking up food or medicine, for medical care and other safety reasons. Employees working in businesses that are considered non-essential are being asked to telecommute or shut down operations if they can.
“Your voluntary actions and discipline are going to make the difference as to whether we can slow the spread of COVID-19. You can make a difference in Wyoming for you, your family and your neighbors,” Gov. Gordon said. “We must keep our hospital facilities functional, not just for COVID-19 but to help people with regular health emergencies like a stroke or a broken leg.”
He said he hoped to avoid implementing more stringent measures. For example, a shelter in place order, Gordon explained, is designed to decrease the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.
“We’re not trying to shut down Wyoming,” he said. “We’re trying to avoid that order.”
When asked what it would take for him to order residents to stay at home, he paused and said, “Hopefully just the good wisdom of Wyoming citizens being asked to do so.”
Gordon was joined by Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, Department of Workforce Services Director Robin Cooley, First Lady Jennie Gordon, and Department of Health Director Mike Ceballos, who said additional sample collection kits would be distributed to counties later this week to increase testing capabilities.
“We need to take the Governor’s words seriously,” Ceballo said. “The orders Wyoming has in place are intended to keep people separated so the virus has limited opportunity to spread. It is most important to stay at home as much as possible. If we work together, we will be able to reduce illness and the burden on our health care system.”
Campbell County still has only one reported case.
As of Wednesday, at 3:30 p.m., 758 tests had been processed by the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory, with 239 processed by private, commercial labs.