Public Health Order Restrictions Will Depend on Labor Day Weekend, Back to School Effects

Public Health Order Restrictions Will Depend on Labor Day Weekend, Back to School Effects

Governor Mark Gordon during a press conference in September.

CHEYENNE — Governor Mark Gordon said during his press conference today that the state won’t drastically change public health orders until it reviews how school starting and Labor Day weekend affect the state’s number of lab confirmed COVID-19 Coronavirus cases.

Some school districts are only in their second week of the school year, which means there is still uncertainty on limiting spread in schools according to Governor Gordon. He added that limiting community spread will help keep schools open, so COVID-19 precautions are as important now as ever.

Additionally, he said the state is waiting to see if Labor Day weekend brings an increase in cases. Governor Gordon said both Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July caused increases in COVID-19 cases statewide. He said the state does not want to move backwards after seeing a decrease in cases across the state for the past two weeks.

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“Going backwards, losing that high ground, that would just be devastating to our businesses, to our schools and to our citizens,” Governor Gordon said.

Over the past two weeks, the average number of new cases per day has decreased from 35 to 25.

“This is good news,” Gordon said.

The current renewal of public health orders expires on September 15, and Governor Gordon said the state is planning on adjusting them, though they have not finalized anything yet. He said adjustments will be made to better accommodate indoor and outdoor gatherings for high school sporting events.

Preventing Community Spread to Keep Schools Open

State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said the state has seen COVID-19 cases in both students and staff across the state, but due to proper social distancing and staying home when sick, other students and staff have not been exposed or had to quarantine.

Dr. Harrist further emphasized the importance of taking COVID-19 precautions seriously in communities, as it will prevent spread in schools. She said social gatherings off campus with University of Wyoming students have led to spread and quarantines, pausing the University’s phased start.

Governor Gordon said the University of Wyoming has about 70 active cases, with 53 off campus quarantines and the rest on campus.

Harrist added that in communities, events have been done successfully, but after parties have caused spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, she said businesses have been forced to temporarily close due to employees working while sick.

“It is important to note that children can be infected outside of school,” she said.

Governor Gordon reported that 23 school districts across the state have volunteered to be part of the opt-in COVID-19 testing program for teachers. Fifteen of the districts will be utilizing a testing platform that will allow them to start being tested as early as next week. The other eight districts are waiting for another platform to become available.

The testing program will test a percentage of teachers at regular intervals for COVID-19 to help detect possible cases of the virus in hopes of preventing spread before it starts.