On Friday, many businesses and organizations will likely see loosened restrictions, including the ability for customers to sit in restaurants and bars and gather in bigger numbers.
At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Gov. Mark Gordon said state leadership was looking at loosening many restrictions and letting the current health order expire Friday. He said they were working on how rodeos could still be run this summer.
Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County Public Health officer, said Thursday evening on social media the slow reopening of businesses would help prevent a surge in cases.
“Research shows that the more abruptly public health efforts are reversed in a pandemic, the more likely a surge in the contagion,” he said. “We would like to come out of this in a way that increases the chances that businesses will stay open. The results of our first waste water epidemiology test will be back any day, and will give us real actionable data to gauge our pace.”
Billin also cautioned that both in-state visitors coming to a “safe” county to shop and tourists coming from out of state, especially once Yellowstone National Park opens, during the summer would bring risks.
“Summer tourists can both save our economy and hurt our health,” he said. “The county commissioners and county health officers from all the counties surrounding YNP have worked closely with Cam Sholly, the superintendent of the park, to coordinate efforts to give us the best chance at both economic and public health success this summer.”
At Thurday’s press conference, Gordon also authorized a special session opening May 15 with most legislators working virtually to consider a number of bills regarding how to spend more than a billion dollars of federal funds to help residents and businesses in the state, from hospitals to one-person businesses.
The two-day special legislative session begins at 8 a.m. This will be the Wyoming Legislature’s first special session since 2004. Proposed legislation may be viewed at wyoleg.gov.
An audio and video livestream of the House, Senate and any potential joint conference committees will be available on the Legislature’s website at wyoleg.gov.
People are encouraged to contact members of the Legislature by using the online hotline or contacting legislators directly using the contact information available on the Legislature’s website at: wyoleg.gov/Legislators. Due to social distancing guidelines, and for the safety of the public and legislators, the Capitol Complex will not be open to the public during the special session.
Gordon also confirmed he would let the out-of-state quarantine order expire when it ends Friday. The state is extending spring turkey season to the end of the month to allow for those who hadn’t had a chance earlier to get a hunt in.
“We are well on our way,” he said.
Public health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said even as restrictions loosen it’s important people stay safe, and she reiterated the importance of using facemasks. Still, so far most aspects of the state’s response to the virus has been positive.
“This isn’t over,” she said. “But we haven’t been overwhelmed in the ways many of us have feared.”
Dr. Billin defended the restrictions as having served the purpose of flattening the curve and keeping Park County as one of the state’s least-infected counties.
“We always knew that any degree of success would look like we overreacted,” he said Thursday night in his daily update. “We feel that one confirmed case (now recovered) in six weeks is the result of Park County’s efforts and not in spite of them. Our one recovered case does not mean that we are in the clear.
“Studies show that there are between 6 to 10 undiagnosed cases for every confirmed case and that 25% of cases are asymptomatic.”
The state Department of Health, in its daily update Sunday, said Wyoming’s confirmed coronavirus cases increased by eight to a total of 503.
All new cases were discovered in Fremont County.
As of Monday afternoon, Fremont County had 180 cases; Laramie County had 111; Teton County had 67; Natrona County had 38; Campbell County had 16; Converse County had 14; Sweetwater had 13, Sheridan had 12; Johnson had 11; Albany had eight; Lincoln and Uinta had seven; Carbon, Crook and Washakie had five; Goshen had four, and Big Horn had two. Hot Springs, Niobrara, Park and Sublette counties each had one case.
Platte and Weston counties remain free of any confirmed cases of the illness.
The number of recoveries in both people with laboratory-confirmed cases and those with “probable” cases of coronavirus increased slightly on Friday, growing by 10 to total 438. The number included 307 recoveries among people with laboratory-confirmed cases and 131 among people with “probable” cases, people who have not been tested for coronavirus but have shown symptoms and are known to have been in contact with someone with a laboratory-confirmed case.
In addition to the 483 confirmed coronavirus cases in Wyoming, the Health Department said the state has 152 unconfirmed “probable” cases.
Even as some businesses in the state began to reopen after being closed since mid-March by the virus, the fate of scheduled events across the state remained unsure, with school officials across Wyoming trying to determine how to conduct high school graduation ceremonies while maintaining social distancing.
One event that is going on, although in a different format, is the Wyoming Republican Party convention, part of which was held online last weekend.
On Saturday, party members were able to go online to elect at-large delegates to the GOP’s national convention, presidential electors and a national committeewoman and committeeman. Such business is usually conducted in the party’s state convention, where members meet in-person, traditionally in May.
After Saturday’s online vote, party members are to meet in-person at the end of June in Gillette to conduct other party business, including the adoption of a platform, bylaws and resolutions.