Wyoming to Ease Some Health Orders; Teton County to Enact More

Gyms, barbershops, hair salons and daycares in Wyoming can reopen on May 1. Gov. Mark Gordon announced Tuesday that under modified health orders such businesses can unlock their doors.  Under the orders, gyms must limit the…

by | Apr 28, 2020 | COVID-19, Health, News

Gyms, barbershops, hair salons and daycares in Wyoming can reopen on May 1. Gov. Mark Gordon announced Tuesday that under modified health orders such businesses can unlock their doors. 

Under the orders, gyms must limit the number of people in the building and staff members must wear masks. Personal training and group fitness classes are prohibited and locker rooms are off-limits. Nail and beauty salons, barbershops, massage parlors, and tattoo and piercing shops can reopen under similar conditions. But people are prohibited from gathering in waiting rooms. 

Child care centers and home daycares may reopen, too, or continue to operate if they follow certain procedures, such as strict cleaning measures and limiting less than 10 people to a room. 

A 10-person limit also applies more broadly to all Wyomingites. A statewide health order limiting all gatherings to less than 10 people is in effect until May 15.

The easing of some state orders could mean little for Teton County. 

In the absence of stricter statewide directives, the county has so far enacted its own mandates, such as a stay-at-home order. 

Teton County’s service-based economy, where frequent person-to-person contact is more commonplace than in other parts of the state, has been a concern for health officials as they work to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Safeguarding the valley’s limited medical infrastructure has also underpinned local health orders. 

As cases here plateau, officials say such directives are working. There are 65 confirmed cases in Teton County, a number that grew by just six in the last two weeks. By contrast, in late March, cases were doubling every two to four days.

“The plateauing is a result of the actions that we’ve taken,” Mayor Pete Muldoon said Friday during a press conference. But, he warned, “that is not a signal to go back to what we were doing before, so we need to continue on this path.”

Teton County’s stay-at-home directive is slated to expire April 30 and Teton District health officer Dr. Travis Riddell said Friday he has heard strong opinions from people in favor and against more health orders. He says he will err on the side of caution.

“I can say with absolute certainty there will be more orders in place by [May 1],” Riddell said. “We will not be going back to where we were on January 1 of this year.”

Riddell could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Gordon acknowledged the statewide order may not be suitable for all counties.

“We all recognize that the virus has had severe impacts in some Wyoming communities, while other towns and counties have been spared,” Gordon said. “This plan takes into account the continued safety of our citizens and establishes a process to consider some case-by-case exceptions to state health orders when appropriate. It is important that we do not surrender the ground we have taken and that we extend our gains against this virus.”

The health orders also provide guidance on how hospitals should begin resuming elective procedures—the bread and butter of Jackson’s only hospital. Dr. Paul Beaupre, CEO of St. John’s Health, said the hospital is losing five to six million per month with those surgeries on hold. 

He told KHOL Tuesday that St. John’s plans to resume elective procedures by mid-May. 

In the meantime, he emphasized that people who need treatment for non-COVID-related illness shouldn’t hesitate visiting their provider. The hospital can safely separate COVID patients from others seeking care, he said.  

“We’ve got to get people feeling like it’s safe to come back to the doctor because we’re going to lose people to preventable illnesses,” Beaupre said. “That’s a major concern I have.”

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn launched KHOL's news department. She has worked as a reporter and editor in Wyoming for the last decade and her work has aired on NPR stations throughout the West. When she's not sweating deadlines, Robyn sustains her nomadic heart by traveling the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow @TheNomadicHeart

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