‘We have a problem now’

CHEYENNE – Governor Mark Gordon addressed Wyoming residents in a press conference on Nov. 13 regarding the recent rapid spread of COVID-19. His frustration was evident as he raised his voice and said the state must “get its head in the game.”

Currently he is not implementing a statewide mask mandate, maintaining his position favoring local control, but “all things are on the table” with regard to future restrictions, Gordon said. 

Wyoming has the fourth highest daily reported cases per capita of all 50 states as of press time Nov. 16, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“We are being knuckleheads about this,” Gordon said. “Every piece of information that is conveyed, somebody comes up with some other bogus piece of information to try to disprove it. So I’m going to ask you to go to yourself and ask yourself, do you feel better today about what’s going on in this state than you felt maybe in June, July or August when we were one of the lowest states for infection rates?”

Wyoming has recorded 19,298 positive cases as of Nov. 15, 9,897 of which are active. Niobrara County has seen a rise in cases recently, with 13 active cases and 21 cumulative since March, as of press time Tuesday according to the Wyoming Department of Health. 

There are no COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Niobrara County as of press time Tuesday, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

Niobrara County Health Officer Joleen Falkenburg, M.D., said those in the COVID-19 high risk categories, including elderly and immunocompromised populations, should exercise extreme caution in social interactions, even with family members. She said ranchers who live in isolation have contracted the virus, one even requiring hospitalization. 

Falkenburg said she recommends Niobrara County residents wear face coverings indoors when six feet of social distancing between individuals is impossible.

“I know people hate the idea, but it does actually work,” she said. “I think the reason everyone hated the idea is we never had a problem earlier, we were really locked down. We have a problem now. So now is the time that we need to adhere to these restrictions better and try harder for our neighbors.”

During his press conference, Gordon emphasized the importance of wearing face coverings along with the other measures, citing his own close call with the virus that was potentially prevented by both parties wearing masks. 

“I sat about three feet away from a person that had COVID-19, for most of the day. He was in a mask, I was in a mask, others were in a mask,” he said. “And I have to tell you, it was effective. I did not come down with COVID-19. I tested twice and I do not have COVID-19.” 

Gordon said health orders are currently updated every two weeks, but the administration will consider doing so more frequently if necessary.

Gordon’s office also announced in a Nov. 11 press release that he will allocate $10 million in CARES Act funding to bring additional medical personnel into the state to alleviate the strain on Wyoming hospitals and health care professionals. 

“We want to make sure that we address this issue before we completely lose all ability to respond to health crises,” Gordon said. 


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