Gov. Mark Gordon said Monday afternoon that more orders concerning COVID-19 are likely to be issued in coming days.
“The purpose of these … is to protect public health,” he said. “Our hope is that, by implementing some of these preventative strategies, we will avoid the need for more extreme measures.”
The governor did say he isn’t planning on issuing a “shelter in place” order, which has been issued by several governors in states more impacted by COVID-19. The best way for Wyoming to avoid a “shelter in place” order is for residents to heed officials’ cases for social distancing, he said.
“At this point, we do not believe a shelter in place order is necessary,” Gordon said. “What we’re trying to do is to find a balance that respects private property rights, personal liberties and prudent health standards. … I don’t anticipate that we’ll be issuing (a shelter in place order) in the next few days and I’m not really sure those conditions would arise.”
Last week, Gordon ordered several businesses, including bars, restaurants and coffee shops, to essentially shut down until April 3. On Friday, he banned gatherings of 10 or more people in one room.
As of Monday evening, Wyoming had 28 confirmed cases after having more than 600 samples tested.
Gordon warned those numbers are “not an accurate indicator of the presence of COVID-19 in Wyoming.”
“It’s likely that more people are positive,” he said. “This isn’t going to be over in two weeks.This is going to impact Wyoming for a long time to come. … We have community spread, but the actions we take now will make a difference.”
None of the confirmed cases come from Albany County, which has had at least 18 samples tested at the Wyoming State Public Health Laboratory. Seven of the 28 confirmed cases come from two of Albany County’s neighbors: Carbon and Laramie counties.
As of Monday, Ivinson Memorial Hospital has conducted 13 tests, producing nine negative results and four more pending cases, spokeswoman Sagan Wheeler said in an email.
Amid the national shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies, State Health Officer Alexia Harrist said Monday that COVID-19 testing in Wyoming should “prioritize severely ill patients that are hospitalized, patients who are elderly or have chronic medical conditions and are at risk for severe illness, people who have close contact with those at risk for severe illness, and health care workers.”
“We know that not everyone will be able to get tested,” she said.
Less than two weeks ago, the state lab was able only to test five people each day. That’s now up to 100 per day, Harrist said. Part of the increase comes from staffing help provided from other agencies, including six employees from the University of Wyoming, which is expected to provide more support in coming days, she said.
Personal protective equipment for health care workers is all becoming in short supply amid the pandemic. Gordon said a shipment of that equipment arrived in Wyoming from the national stockpile Monday and should be distributed among Wyoming’s counties on Tuesday.