CHEYENNE, Wy. (Wyoming News Now) Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is ordering a close to all public places for a two-week period to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
In a release sent to news outlets, Governor Gordon said the closures will last until April 3rd and includes schools, theaters, bars, nightclubs, coffee shops, employee cafeterias, self-serve buffets, salad bars, unpackaged self-serve food services, gyms, conference rooms and museums.
“This Governor has never been inclined to overstep local authority, but these are unprecedented times. It is critical that there is uniformity across the state in how social distancing measures are implemented,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “Wyoming, like all Americans, must commit to reducing the strain on our healthcare system. These are hard measures and they will be difficult for employees and businesses alike, but they are warranted.”
According to the release provided to outlets, restaurants will be closed to dine-in food service, but may remain open for curbside take-out or drive-through food service. Under the order, childcare centers will be closed except for those serving essential personnel. (for more on who qualifies as "essential personnel" see below)
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, said “We realize this action will be very difficult for many of our residents. But it is an important step to help them avoid becoming ill and to help them avoid spreading COVID-19 to those who are most vulnerable. We should all work together to help keep our friends and neighbors safe.”
Wyoming currently has 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the Wyoming Public Health laboratory has completed nearly 300 tests, as of March 19, 2020. Additional testing is occurring at commercial laboratories. A nationwide shortage of testing supplies is impacting Wyoming, like all states. Social distancing measures are the most effective means of slowing the spread of COVID-19, according to Dr. Harrist.
While most individuals will likely not experience serious illness related to COVID-19, older residents and people with certain health conditions put them at higher risk of developing a serious or life-threatening illness.
Wyoming News Now asked for clarification on who qualifies as essential personnel for child care providers. The below information was sent from the Governor's official medical order:
All child care centers and home daycares are ordered closed, subject to the following:
a. Child care centers or home daycares that provide care for children of essential personnel may continue to operate to provide child care for children of essential personnel. Essential personnel includes:
i. Staff and providers of childcare and education services, including
custodial and kitchen staff and other support staff, who do not do their
ii. Providers of healthcare including, but not limited to, employees of
clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care and post-acute care
facilities, respite houses, designated agencies, emergency medical
services, as well as necessary custodial, kitchen, administrative, and
other support staff;
iii. Criminal justice personnel including those in law enforcement, courts,
and correctional services;
iv. Public health employees;
v. Firefighters, Wyoming National Guard personnel called to duty for
responding to COVID-19, and other first responders;
vi. State employees determined to be essential for response to the COVID-19 crisis;
vii. Active duty military staff;
viii. Pharmacy staff;
ix. Foster families with children through grade 8;
x. 2-1-1 and 9-1-1 call center staff; critical infrastructure and utility
workers, including electrical, plumbing, telecommunications, water,
and wastewater operators, workers, and staff;
xi. State, municipal, and commercial public works and sanitation crews;
xii. Grocery and food supply workers;
xiii. Supply chain, postal, and delivery drivers and warehouse workers;
xiv. Manufacturers of medical devices, equipment, testing equipment, andsupplies;
xv. and fuel distribution workers.
b. In circumstances where a child care center or home daycare remains open, the center or home is required to have fewer than 10 people in a room or together at any time, including for meals or recreation.
c. Further, a child care center or home daycare that remains open is required to follow all health guidelines from the CDC and Wyoming Department of Health for limiting the risk of transmission of COVID-19, to the extent possible when caring for children.
d. As childcare is a critical part of the infrastructure of Wyoming, allowing essential systems to function, in the event a county health officer wants to close a childcare facility under the direction and supervision of the State Health Officer, the County Health Officer shall work with local childcare providers to make available limited childcare services for essential personnel, as described above.