CASPER, Wyo. — Schools in Wyoming have been ordered closed until April 3 amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Governor Mark Gordon said on Wednesday, March 25 that it is currently under review whether that closure will be extended.
“We’ll have that information in the next couple of days,” Gordon said.
He added that the Department of Education was working to ensure that all districts across the state “are kind of on the same page.”
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Gordon has thus far stopped short of issuing a “shelter-at-home” order as has been done in other locations across the country, such as in Denver.
Gordon said that he has the authority to issue such an order, but that he was hoping to avoid going that route. He said that this would be possible if people adhere to the three closure orders the state has already issued and if people make an honest attempt to stay at home as much as possible.
He encourage people to “stay home, practice social distancing, practice good hygeine.”
“I am confident that we are going to get through this,” Gordon said, adding that he wants the situation “addressed the Wyoming way, the proper way.”
He said the closure orders have been necessary to protect public health and attempt to prevent the medical system from becoming overwhelmed.
“If we see a surge of cases….we could see our healthcare providers be overwhelmed with patients,” Gordon said. “We need to ensure that we have the capacity to treat everyone who needs to be treated.”
“We are not trying to shut down Wyoming. Your voluntary action and discipline will make the difference.”
He added that just because a case of COVID-19 has not been confirmed in a county doesn’t mean that the virus is not present there.
“I am doing by best to avoid the shelter in place order,” Gordon added. “In Wyoming we have many small hospitals with only a few beds. They are staffed by your neighbors and friends.”
Gordon said that people staying home, especially when they are sick, would help the healthcare system handle the difficult situation and would allow him to avoid issues a shelter-at-home order.
“This isn’t a situation that will run its course by the first week of April,” he added. “We all know that.”
“We are going to have community spread regardless of where you are.”
He reiterated that the “best way to help” was for people to “stay home.”
First Lady Jennie Gordon said she too has been focusing on the COVID-19 outbreak. She said that Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies will be setting up mobile food pantries in various locations across the state next week.
She added that 40 Wyoming school districts are also offering food services to children under 18 across the state.
“We have also worked with weekend food bag programs throughout the state,” the first lady said.
She also had some words of encouragement for people.
“I’ve always said that everyone is just one emergency away from being in need of help,” she said. “Check in on someone who lives down the block.”
“Buy only what you need at the store. And above all, be kind.”
The governor said that he has been considering communication he receives from many parties across the state.
“Please know that your comments are being read, your calls are being heard,” he said. “I am looking at it all and considering it. I thank you Wyoming, for showing an example for the rest of the nation.”
This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.