HSC officials request order variances
May 7, 2020
Wyoming began taking steps toward normalcy as some counties won permission to reopen restaurants and churches.
State officials approved requests from seven counties for county-wide variances from the public health orders that were imposed in mid-March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Hot Springs County officials presented a request for exemptions and variances from the public health orders issued by state officials. At press time, the request was still being reviewed by the Wyoming Health Department. We will update this story on our website (thermopir.com) when more details are available.
According to a message released by HSC Public Health Officer Vernon Miller, the request involves restaurants, pools and other businesses.
Most of the variances issued in other counties in Wyoming were for outdoor dining for restaurants and bars, as seen in Natrona, Park and Sheridan counties. However, indoor dining was allowed in Lincoln and Washakie counties.
In all cases, the request for variances from county health officers contained guidelines for preventing the spread of the illness. Those included limiting tables to six people, keeping tables six feet apart, requiring staff to wear cloth face covers and the full disinfection of the businesses daily.
Niobrara, Platte and Sheridan counties won approval for church services, which required a variance from the state health order limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer. The adopted variances require that household groups stay at least six feet away from each other, that no more people be allowed in a church than can be accommodated with social distancing guidelines and that church leaders and staff use face masks.
In the cases of both restaurants and churches, people interacting with members of the public are to be screened to determine whether they have symptoms of coronavirus or have been in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with coronavirus.
State officials also granted a request from Teton County for a variance that would let the county keep its gyms and businesses providing personal services closed until May 11.
A modification to the state health orders allowed those businesses to open elsewhere on May 1.
As counties around the state made progress Monday in reopening businesses closed by the coronavirus, Wyoming’s confirmed case count increased by nine to total 444, largely due to increases in Fremont County’s case count.
The Wyoming Health Department reported nine new coronavirus cases in Fremont County on Monday and Tuesday, bringing the county’s total to 131. Laramie County reported seven new cases.
Fremont County health officials have said that increased testing and contact tracing would lead to a significant increase in the number of cases in the county.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Fremont County had 131 cases; Laramie County had 108; Teton County had 67; Natrona County had 38; Campbell County had 15; Converse County had 14; Sheridan County had 12; Johnson and Sweetwater counties had 11; Albany had eight; Lincoln and Uinta had six; Carbon, Crook and Washakie had five; Goshen had three, and Big Horn had two. Hot Springs, Niobrara, Park and Sublette counties each had one case.
Platte and Weston counties remain free of any confirmed cases of the illness.
The number of recoveries in both people with laboratory-confirmed cases and those with “probable” cases of coronavirus increased slightly on Tuesday, growing to 409. The number included 291 recoveries among people with laboratory-confirmed cases and 118 among people with “probable” cases, people who have not been tested for coronavirus but have shown symptoms and are known to have been in contact with someone with a laboratory-confirmed case.
In addition to the 452 confirmed coronavirus cases in Wyoming on Tuesday, the Health Department said the state has 152 unconfirmed “probable” cases.
In other developments: Closures questioned - A group of legislators last week sent a letter to Gov. Mark Gordon questioning his decisions to close some businesses to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Six legislators signed a letter authored by state Rep. Scott Clem, R-Gillette, that said Gordon lacked constitutional authority to close some businesses and restrict gatherings to fewer than 10 people. “What legal authority is your administration relying upon that allows you to suspend constitutional rights, specifically the right to assemble and the right to worship?” The letter said. “How does statutory reference supersede the U.S. and Wyoming constitution?”