Gordon’s health emergency to expire

By: 
Maya Shimizu Harris with the Casper Star-Tribune, from the Wyoming News Exchange

CASPER — Wyoming’s COVID-19 public health emergency declaration will effectively end March 14, Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday. 

“As we see our case numbers and hospitalizations receding, it is time to begin the shift to a new phase,” Gordon said in a statement. “This virus will be with us for the foreseeable future and we should manage it appropriately. That means being personally responsible for one’s own health and respectful of your family and neighbors.” 

Gordon issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Wyoming on March 13, 2020, two days after the first case was identified here in a Sheridan County resident. The order directed the Office of Homeland Security, the Adjutant General and the Wyoming Department of Health to mobilize resources to fight the COVID-19 public health crisis. 

After cases spiked and receded many times, it appears that COVID cases and hospitalizations are on decline, at least for now. On Monday, the state’s hospitals were treating 47 COVID-19 patients. That number peaked at nearly 250 in October. 

Cases in Wyoming have also fallen off dramatically following a spike driven by the omicron variant. In late January, the state’s seven-day average for lab confirmed cases topped 1,000. It’s now under 60. 

The New York Times reported 9,086 new cases nationally on Sunday. In mid-January, by comparison, daily cases at times topped 900,000. 

The end of the public health emergency entails the termination of the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program emergency allotment, effective May 1, and the elimination of emergency rule changes to licensure requirements for the Board of Medicine and Board of Nursing, according to Gordon’s announcement. 

States were eligible to receive emergency SNAP allotments beginning in March 2020. The rule changes for licensure requirements were meant to accommodate the need for more medical personnel on a temporary basis, said Wyoming Department of Health spokesperson Kim Deti. 


 

The announcement said that the majority of Wyomingites will not be impacted by the shifts brought about by the end of the state’s public health emergency (the state’s declaration covers different areas from its national counterpart, which is still in effect). 

Gordon also announced on Monday the appointment of Stefan Johansson, currently Wyoming Department of Public Health interim director, as the department’s permanent director. Johansson has served as interim director since May 2021 and has worked in the department since 2013.

 

This story was published on March 1.

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