Gordon to extend health orders as state’s coronavirus infections continue to climb

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon looks at his homemade face mask while speaking during a press conference giving community updates on the COVID-19 situation on April 8, inside the Capitol. Gordon was joined by Wyoming State Department of Health Epidemiologist and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist, Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell, and Wyoming Department of Workforce Services director Robin Sessions Cooley. Gordon announced Monday that he will extend the current public health orders until at least July 15. (WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE/Michael Cummo)

EVANSTON — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has extended the statewide COVID-19 public health orders currently in place through July 15. Those orders continue to limit gatherings to 50 people in a confined space without restrictions and 250 with social distancing and increased sanitization measures in place. All public health restrictions that apply to restaurants, bars, gyms and performance spaces, including mask and distancing requirements, will remain in place.

A press release from Gordon’s office said the public health orders will remain in place, without further easing, due to the increased COVID-19 case numbers throughout the state.

“Twenty-five percent of Wyoming’s total number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the past two weeks, with 288 new cases confirmed since the current orders went into effect on June 15. New cases of the virus have been reported in 15 counties and reflect increased transmission within Wyoming communities,” reads the June 29 release.

“It is clear from the recent increase in cases statewide that the dual threat of COVID-19 to both the health of our citizens and the health of our economy is not going away,” Gordon said. “No one wants to see the progress we have made vanish, but that requires each of us to make a concerted effort to slow the spread of the virus. It is really simple and depends on everyone practicing good hygiene, social distancing and doing their best to wear a mask in public where social distancing isn’t possible. It’s the way you and our economy will both stay healthy.”

Gordon also announced he has allocated an additional $50 million in federal CARES Act funding to Wyoming’s Business Interruption Stipend Program to ensure the program keeps pace with the demand from small businesses across the state. The additional funding is available to businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The Wyoming Business Council will continue to accept applications for the program until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, July 2. An additional grant program for businesses with up to 100 employees, as well as a reimbursement program for coronavirus-related health and safety expenses for all businesses, is expected to launch the week of July 13.

The continuation of Wyoming’s public health orders comes as states across the country are experiencing dramatically increased case numbers and as several states have issued new closure orders and restrictions. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, on Friday, June 27, nearly 45,000 new cases were confirmed in the U.S., which is the highest single day total since the pandemic began, surpassing the previous high of just over 43,000 reported on April 7.

Two Utah counties — neighboring Summit County and Salt Lake County — have issued mandatory public face mask orders.

Here in Uinta County, where cases have ballooned from a total of 10 on June 3, to 140 confirmed and 34 probable cases as of the afternoon of Monday, June 29, an additional 11 cases have been confirmed in the past four days, according to Uinta County Public Health Nurse Manager Kim Proffit.

“That still feels low, comparatively,” said Proffit, who said many of the new confirmed cases were known contacts of previous cases. “Hopefully, that means they’ve been in quarantine and that both their number of contacts and risk of spread to others is low.”

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