Support for the way both Gov. Mark Gordon and local governments are handling the coronavirus is high, according to a survey by the University of Wyoming.
The results of the survey by the university’s Survey and Analysis Center were released Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases in the state grew by eight to total 296, with a recovery rate of more than 65%.
The survey of 494 Wyoming residents, conducted Monday, is the second on coronavirus-related issues to be conducted by the Survey and Analysis Center.
Of those polled, 76.1% approved of the way Gordon is handling the pandemic, while 20.8% disapprove, for a net approval rating of 55.3 points. The net approval rating is a decline of 12.6 points from the previous survey conducted two weeks ago.
At the local level, 77.4% of those questioned approve of the way their local government and health officials are handling the coronavirus outbreak, while 18.6% disapprove — a net approval rating of 58.8 points, which is a decline of 2.7 percentage points from two weeks ago.
Both marks are far better than those given Congress for its handling of the situation, according to the survey, which had a margin of error of 4.4%.
Most of those questioned, 49.5%, disapprove of the way Congress is dealing with the issue, while 41.9% approve, for an overall approval rating of -7.6 points.
On other issues, 39.5% of those questioned say they or members of their immediate family have lost their jobs or been laid off because of the coronavirus and 61.1% say they or someone in their family has seen their work hours or pay cut.
The survey also indicates a growing level of concern with the impact of coronavirus on the economy, with 74.3% saying they are very concerned, an increase of 2.9 percentage points over two weeks ago.
A majority of those questioned also said they have changed their habits in recent weeks, with 77% saying they are avoiding physical contact with others and spending more time at home and 51.8% saying they are declining visits from family and friends.
Brian Harnisch, senior research scientist in charge of the survey project, said his group will continue to conduct surveys through the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Wyoming Department of Health reported Thursday that eight new coronavirus cases were detected in Fremont, Laramie, Natrona and Washakie counties.
As of Thursday afternoon, Laramie County had 67 cases; Teton County had 59; Fremont County had 43; Natrona County had 37; Campbell County had 13; Sheridan had 12; Johnson had 11; Sweetwater had 10; Converse had eight; Washakie had six; Albany and Lincoln had five; Carbon, Crook and and Uinta had four, and Goshen had three. Big Horn, Hot Springs, Niobrara, Park and Sublette counties had one case each.
The number of people to have recovered from the illness since it first surfaced in Wyoming also increased on Thursday, growing by 11 to total 187. That means almost 65 percent of those diagnosed with the illness have recovered.
Full recovery is defined as occurring when a patient shows no symptoms of coronavirus for three days and has taken no medication for fever reduction.
In other developments:
Special session: Legislative leaders on Thursday voted to pursue several pieces of emergency legislation which will probably be addressed in a special session. Members of the Legislature’s Management Council, meeting by video conference call, reviewed proposals to deal with not only the blow to the state’s tax income expected to result from the coronavirus, but how best to use $1.25 billion in federal aid. House Speaker Steve Harshman said it is possible some of the issues could be dealt with in a one-day special session to be held in coming weeks. More complicated issues would have to be addressed in a series of one-day sessions over the next several months.
Pay cuts: Cheyenne officials have decided to suspend pay for 303 of the city’s employees in the face of declining tax income. The city will also be reducing its expenditures by 10% to accommodate declines in both mineral and sales and use taxes. “When we don’t have revenues, we need to cut expenses,” said Mayor Marian Orr. Staff members will have the option to use vacation time or sick days to continue getting paid.
Return delayed: Two Wyoming Army National Guard units have had their overseas missions extended by two months because travel restrictions have made it impossible for them to be replaced. The units contain about 125 soldiers in total and the Wyoming Army National Guard said units set to replace the Wyoming troops cannot travel because of coronavirus restrictions.
Making masks: A Laramie business is teaming up with a nonprofit organization to sew and distribute cloth face masks around the community. Atmosphere Mountainworks, which sells handmade outdoor gear, is having its staff make the masks for use by Laramie residents. Laramie High School students are helping create a donation page for the effort and spread the word on social media and to deliver the masks.
Shifting focus: An Evanston “escape room” business has shifted its focus during the coronavirus pandemic to remain in activity. The iSolvU Escape Room has launched an online trivia contest where teams can use web-based video conferencing to take part in trivia battles. Winners receive prizes including gift certificates to other Evanston businesses.