Gov. Mark Gordon is angry.
Angry at those saying “herd immunity” is the best way to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Angry at “knuckleheads” refusing to take precautions such as wearing facemasks and limiting social contacts.
Angry at people spreading coronavi- rus to teachers and students, patients and health-care workers, customers and busi- ness employees.
Angry at anyone dismissing COVID-19 and helping damage the state’s economy.
At his Friday morning press conference, the governor blasted the negligent citizenry of Wyoming for endangering the survival of the state’s already weak economy and work force.
If the tide doesn’t turn quickly, the gov- ernor said, he and state health officials will turn to stronger restrictions.
Eighteen counties of 23 have “critical” status. The hardest hit age groups right now are under 18 and 18 to 29 years old but overall it is killing those 60 and older.
Gov. Gordon was asked directly about a statewide mask mandate in light of Wyo- ming’s alarming spike in COVID-19 infec- tions and hospitalizations.
“Yes, we are thinking about every as- pect of what we can do,” he said. “There are changes coming and they will be more restrictive.”
“The state is under great strain,” he said, adding after a strong stance against COVID-19 for months, Wyoming is now fifth in the nation – “some say third” – for
Instate hospitals are filling quickly with
sick people and overwhelmed out-of-state hospitals can’t take new patients. Knowl- edgeable health-care workers are hard to find – and neighboring states are about two weeks ahead of Wyoming’s “trajectory,” he added.
Gov. Gordon expressed frustration with people who argue scientific facts with “a bogus piece of information” or who claim to prefer building “herd immunity.”
“Donald Trump talked about it,” he said. “One, we can do a really good job to get Wyoming back within the markers and get the vaccine. Or you can play Russian rou- lette, get this disease and see if it affects you. ... I don’t see much choice between the two.”
He repeated the public health mantra of wearing a face covering, washing hands and socially distancing. Wyoming was one of very few states able to have its state and county fairs last summer.
Nursing homes, businesses and schools all face very high risks “because we are knuckleheads. ... Go ask yourself, do you feel better today compared to June?”
Gordon has reached out to businesses, who write him “every day asking, “What
are you going to go, Governor?’”
“Ask yourself, look around – let’s get se- rious. How are we going to have a healthy workforce ... because people aren’t taking
this thing seriously,” he said.
And when CARES Act relief money
runs out, “there is nothing on the horizon.” That money, even with “so many strings attached,” was for “what had already hap- pened,” not what’s ahead.
People are very nervous about doing business with Wyoming’s sky-high infec- tion rates.
“People here are going to Colorado,” he said. “How’s that to help our economy ... survive for the next several months?”
The state has issued public health orders every two weeks but might return to weekly updates, if infection rates don’t go down, to target specific activities, counties or com- munities.
In the meantime, local governments have always had the option to request vari- ances for local mask mandates, the gover- nor emphasized.
Everyone should be proactive and avoid small private gatherings, even with Thanks- giving and Christmas approaching, he said, because the White House said asymptom- atic carriers spread the disease five times
longer than those with symptoms. Wyoming Department of Health Direc- tor Mike Ceballos said, “There is such a large number of asymptomatic people, we can’t track them. It’s everywhere. It’s so pervasive that there’s not a place we’re not
Gov. Gordon returned to urge Wyoming-
ites come together and help their neighbors avoid becoming a pandemic statistic.
“If I can’t rely on you we’re going to have to do something else.”