Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon on Thursday revealed the state’s plan “transition… to a new phase of COVID-19 response,” including allowing some businesses to reopen and hospitals to resume elective surgeries.
Officials will use six health metrics, developed by the state’s executive branch and Wyoming Department of Health, in determining how and when to ease restrictions. Gordon’s office said the goal is to allow flexibility at the county level based on objective data.
“This will be a balanced approach that will be driven by two guiding principles– public safety and helping more people get back to work,” Governor Gordon said. “We are going to relax some of the restrictions, while also detailing what data we will monitor to make sure we stay on the right path.”
Currently, statewide public health orders regarding social distancing, school closures and business restrictions are set to expire April 30. Before that date, sometime next week, the state health officer is set to issue modified health orders allowing counties to request variances from the statewide orders “if the public health conditions in the county warrant the change.”
The county-level variances could be more or less restrictive than the statewide orders, depending on health data for each county including the state of the outbreak, hospital capacity and testing capacity.
The six statewide metrics that will be gauged to determine how and when Wyoming eases restrictions — measured on a 1-3 scale of “improving,” “stabilizing,” or “concerning” — are as follows:
- New cases — have there been fewer cases over time? (currently listed as “stabilizing”)
- Percent of cases attributed to community spread — is the percentage the same or less? (currently listed as “concerning”)
- Percent of all tests that are positive — is the percentage same or less? (currently listed as “stabilizing”)
- Total COVID-19 admissions reported by hospitals — has there been a sustained reduction in total COVID-19 hospitalizations? (currently listed as “concerning”)
- Total hospital bed availability — is bed availability in Wyoming hospitals stable? (currently listed as “stabilizing”)
- Total ICU bed availability — is ICU bed availability in Wyoming hospitals stable? (currently listed as “stabilizing”)
In addition to carefully and continually evaluating those six factors, health officials will also consider testing capacity, medical supplies, the current disease situation, new information and other potential developments regarding the pandemic.
As those metrics change, public health restrictions could remain in place or even tighten, depending on the situation.
Officials say Wyoming’s testing capacity and the availability of adequate personal protective equipment for those working on the front lines of the virus are limited.
The state’s transition partially reflects guidelines from the White House for resuming normal daily life, but Wyoming may not adhere to all of the federal guidance. State officials may coordinate with neighboring states to ensure the effectiveness of the transition.