Wyoming’s first “shelter in place” order took effect over the weekend as Jackson’s town council approved an ordinance requiring the town’s residents to stay at home.
The ordinance came on the heels of a similar order issued by Teton County health officials on Saturday which required those age 65 and over and those suffering from high-risk medical conditions to stay home.
Both orders were issued as the state’s confirmed coronavirus count continued to rise over the weekend, reaching 94 by Monday morning.
Jackson’s ordinance allows people to leave their homes to obtain supplies such as groceries, medical care and supplies or to take part in outdoor recreation, as long as people stay at least six feet away from each other.
“It’s not like we’re living through the Battle of Britain here,” said Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon. “We can get through this.”
Teton County’s order, also issued Saturday, applies to those age 65 and over, those with high-risk medical conditions and people caring for them. It bans travel outside the home except to perform tasks essential to health and safety, such as obtaining medical supplies, to care for a family member or pet in another household, to obtain or deliver supplies or to travel to a place of employment if the person cannot work remotely from home.
The confirmed number of coronavirus cases increased to 94 on Monday with seven new cases reported in five counties. Teton and Sheridan counties saw their case counts go up by two each, while one new case was detected in Fremont, Laramie and Natrona counties.
The number of coronavirus cases on Monday morning stood at 24 in Fremont County, 20 in Laramie County, 16 in Teton County, 10 in Natrona County, eight in Sheridan County, five in Johnson County and three in Carbon County. Albany, Campbell, Converse, Goshen, Park, Sublette, Sweetwater and Washakie counties all reported one case.
However, the state also reported that at least 20 coronavirus patients had recovered.
In the face of continued increases in the number of cases, Gov. Mark Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, extended by two weeks the three orders closing schools and businesses and limiting gatherings.
The orders closing schools and businesses where 10 or more people are likely to gather such as bars, health clubs and theaters, closing personal service businesses such as hair salons and tattoo parlors and prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people are now in effect through Apri 17.
“Because we’ve seen cases identified in additional counties and growth in the case numbers, it’s clear how important it is for us to take sustained action,” he said in a news release Friday. “I understand the ongoing strain that these measures are having on businesses, workers and Wyoming communities. But it is imperative that our citizens respond to this public health crisis by staying home whenever possible and practicing proper social distancing when they must go out.”
In other developments:
Hundreds self-isolating: In Fremont County, the county hardest hit by the coronavirus with 23 cases as of Monday morning, health officials estimated that more than 400 people had been advised by health care professionals to self-isolate.
“The disease is active in the community,” said a news release from Fremont County Incident Management Team. “We support the extended governor’s orders and urge everyone to continue to self-isolate.”
Food ‘clearinghouse:’ The Wyoming Hunger Initiative task force on Saturday announced the launch of a “food clearinghouse” website that families struggling with access to food can visit to see resources available in each county.
“The sudden additional demand on food pantries statewide requires creative solutions, as will protecting the health of our Wyoming neighbors and friends at highest risk for contracting COVID-19,” said First Lady Jennie Gordon, who heads the Wyoming Hunger Initiative.
The resource list can be found at this website: https://www.nohungerwyo.org/covid
Business assistance: Two state agencies are offering $300,000 in grants to help Wyoming businesses avert or shorten layoffs. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and Wyoming Workforce Development Council are providing the “layoff aversion” grants to help businesses pay for items such as frequent deep cleaning or sanitization of their businesses, computer software and hardware needed to let employees work from home or adding shifts so the companies can continue to operate.
Hoarding medicine: The Wyoming Board of Medicine is warning doctors not to misuse or hoard drugs seen as potential treatments for coronavirus. Members of the state pharmacy board have heard reports that physicians are writing prescriptions for two medications that have reportedly shown some promise for the treatment of COVID-19.
“(The board is) saying ‘We need to take this seriously; if you’re inappropriately prescribing this and giving it to people who aren’t symptomatic, that’s a violation of the (medical practice) act and we’ll take action,” said the Kevin Bohnenblust, the Board of Medicine’s executive director.
Remote learning plan: Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow reminded school districts on Friday that they must get their plans for the remote education of students in place by April 6.
District plans must be approved by the state Department of Education by April 6, Balow said, or the districts will not receive state funding.
Empty churches: Many churches across the state turned to online or outside services over the weekend as the governor’s order limiting gatherings to 10 people or more entered its second weekend. Sheridan’s Wesleyan Church announced it would hold “drive in” Easter services on April 12, where families can remain in their cars and listen to the service on the radio.
Beer assistance: The Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild is asking local, state and federal officials for emergency assistance for its member breweries. According to a news release from the group, many breweries have closed their doors or limited operations in response to state closure orders, laying off hundreds of employees.
The guild is asking that the state give breweries the choice to offer curbside pickup and delivery.
Girl Scout Cookies: Those who have ordered Girl Scout cookies to get through the pandemic will have to wait a little longer to get their treats. The Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming has announced the suspension of all in-person delivery and sales.
However, the Girl Scouts have also launched a new program to get cookies in the hands of those dealing directly with the coronavirus — medical staff, first responders and volunteers. Through the “Eat. Share. Show Communities We Care” program, people can purchase cookies online for donation.
Liquor deliveries: Liquor license holders in Sheridan will be able to deliver packaged wine, malt beverages and liquor inside the Sheridan city limits under an emergency ordinance adopted by the Sheridan City Council on Friday. The ordinance was requested by liquor dealers, who said the move would help them keep some jobs.