July 29, 2020 |
Governor Mark Gordon Tuesday announced that Wyoming’s public health orders will remain in place through August 15. The governor cited the growing count of COVID-19 cases in the state as the reason for extending the orders, but ruled out implementing a statewide face mask rule.
Over 100 lab confirmed cases in the past two days, pushing the active case count in Wyoming over 500 for the first time.
Much of the increase is the result of a big increase in testing last week – up 77 percent, 4,700 more tests performed last week that the week prior.
Although Gordon declined to issue a face mask edict, he did weigh in on the controversial and politically charged issue across the country. The governor warned that not wearing face masks could tank the state’s economy.
Economic indicators suggest that Wyoming is deep in financial trouble with or without face masks. Earlier in his opening remarks yesterday, the governor addressed the looming general fund deficit that threatens to impact government services across the state.
Gordon said revenue declines are so steep that eliminating WYDOT, the highway patrol and cutting education spending in half wouldn’t make a dent in the deficit, which now stands at nearly $800 million shy of what lawmakers budgeted earlier this year.
While the governor said new indicators out yesterday show some improvement, especially from oil sector revenues, he’s moving forward with budget cuts of up to 20 percent.
Gordon did express hope that the state will stay open and that schools will be in session this fall. The governor noted that in spite of the recent uptick in cases, Wyoming has the eighth lowest rate of cases per 100,000 people of any state in the country. Only Alaska has had fewer deaths.