‘This is a war’

CHEYENNE – No matter what happens in Washington, D.C., concerning an economic stimulus package to combat the recession caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Wyoming and its citizens should prepare for a long-term war against the novel coronavirus, according to Governor Mark Gordon. 

“This is a battle. This is a war,” he said. “As we progress in this war, we will be victorious of we work together.” 

During a press conference on Monday evening, Gordon said the measures legislators in Washington are attempting to install are a way to start the economic recovery, but there’s still a lot of work to do – regardless of what Washington comes up with. 

“I would say it’s a start,” Gordon said. “I don’t believe this will be repaired easily. I think the consequences are very long term, and I do believe we will be back with needs for more direct infusions for states.”

Gordon reiterated the advice that has become all too common over the past month – stay home, wash your hands, practice social distancing – while making it clear that he believes the COVID-19 pandemic will not be a short-term problem. 

“There are two threats this virus represents,” he said. “First, there is the very real threat of the virus and the challenges to the health care system, and the other is the threat to the business sector that we have been addressing. Every day, we examine what advice is coming and what we need to do.

“Any step that we take, we do it seriously. We do it under an enormous amount of consideration. I think it’s important that our citizens understand that this is not a situation that will remedy itself quickly.”

One of those steps was an order from Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist to shutdown public spaces like bars, theaters and restaurants, and another to forbid gatherings of more than 10 people. Gordon said he doesn’t believe a statewide shelter in place order will be necessary, as long as residents do their part to keep the virus under control in Wyoming. 

Gordon pointed at the situation in Louisiana, where nearly 1,200 cases of COVID-19 have been reported and 34 people have died, as an example of why Wyoming residents should take the pandemic seriously. 

“I think it is really important that every Wyoming citizen needs to understand that it is their responsibility to exercise their right to do the right thing,” he said. “Our hope is that people will take this seriously and understand what the consequences are. You can look anywhere in the world. You can look at Italy, you can look at Louisiana, you can look at New York, you can look at what is going on in California. 

“People might have the sort of view that it will never come here,” Gordon said. “That’s the attitude that got Louisiana, and other states, in the shape they are. It is absolutely imperative that we address this quickly so that we don’t overrun our medical capacities.”