EDITOR'S NOTE: It was brought to our attention the original posting of this article and the copy that will appear in the Wednesday, April 8 edition incorrectly stated the closure orders issued by Gov. Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Harrist had been extended to May 30. The April 30 date in this updated posting is correct. We apologize for any confusion.
TORRINGTON – A man in his 20s was the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in Goshen County, and just hours after the case was announced on Friday by Goshen County Public Health, Governor Mark Gordon and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist extended their orders to close schools, restaurants, bars, hair salons and other non-essential industries until April 30.
On Monday morning, GCPH announced a third laboratory-confirmed case, which is related to one of the previous cases.
“Goshen County Public Health officials were notified of the third laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 on April 5, 2020,” the release said. “This individual is a close contact to a previously identified case. The Wyoming Department of Health is investigating this case and high risk contacts will be notified.”
The Goshen County cases pushed the statewide total over 200 lab-confirmed cases at press time, though there are likely other cases that have not been tested due to an algorithm to determine which patients get tested, which is in place due to a shortage of testing supplies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 304,826 in the United States and the virus is responsible for 7,616 deaths. As of Sunday, 32 people have been tested for the virus in Goshen County.
According to the release, local agencies will continue to work to educate the community about the virus and its spread.
“Local agencies will continue to provide community education about mitigation efforts such as social distancing,” the release said. “Evidence from other affected cities and countries clearly shows that areas that initiated mitigation measures prior to widespread community transmission are significantly better able to address their community’s needs.”
During a press conference Friday afternoon, Gordon once again urged Wyomingites to do their part in the fight against COVID-19.
“We’re employing every asset we have to combat COVID-19,” he said. “I want to emphasize the point that we’re all making – we’re all saying stay home, wash your hands, and maintain a distance of six feet between yourselves. Only go to the store as an individual – not as a group, do not congregate in groups of more than 10.
“That is the behavior we need and that is why we agree. It is critical we behave this way.”
Gordon opened the press conference by addressing the reasons why he hasn’t issued a formal stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order. According to Gordon, his previous orders already cover the same material covered by other states’ orders.
“If you’re waiting for me to issue a shelter in place order, when you have doctors telling you that you should stay home, and I am telling you to stay home – what are you waiting for? Are you waiting for ‘mother, may I?’ Or are you taking care of yourselves and practicing the common sense that we expect.”
“One of our Wyoming values is ‘talk less, and say more.’ Our orders talk less, and say more.”
The order extensions did make noticeable changes in the ways restaurants can serve food. While the dining rooms and lobbies were shut down by the initial order in March, the extension relegates restaurants to curbside orders only.
Gordon also announced that people visiting Wyoming, or people returning to Wyoming from another state, should self-quarantine for 14 days, excluding people travelling for work.
“The decision to extend these orders is not an easy one,” he said. “We hear every day about people that are out of work, and people that are losing their homes – but it is the correct one to protect the public health. There is no doubt the number of confirmed cases in the state will continue to increase, and that will continue throughout this month.”
During the press conference, Harrist said the worst case scenario is something most people have seen on the news, but it is avoidable in Wyoming if precautions are taken.
“It’s not an unknown. It’s not something we have to guess,” Harrist said. “Anyone who watches the news can see what happened in Italy and in other states in the United States. Our healthcare systems can be overloaded. There may be an inability for people even who don’t have COVID-19 to get appropriate care. Deaths that we could have prevented will occur. These are very serious consequences, but this is something we can prevent if we follow the Governor’s recommendations.”
“Anyone who feels safe had better think again,” Gordon said.
“Stay home. Practice extra hygiene. Practice social distancing by maintaining at least six feet between yourselves. Don’t mob stores or allow your kids to gather for playdates.”