A message from Sublette County Public Health Officer Dr. Brendan Fitzsimmons:
We have been at this coronavirus business a long time now. My colleagues and I began our strategy and planning sessions in early February and we’ve all had our lives disrupted for the last 6 weeks. It seems like forever, I know!
We’ve been fortunate to avoid any serious illness in Sublette County so far. We appreciate the efforts of our residents for their assistance with maintaining our State Orders. One of the things that we worried most about, the possibility that this pandemic would overwhelm our health care system has not happened, to date, in the Wyoming/Utah/Idaho region. The other concern is testing capability– our private options have expanded but we still do not have the capacity to do widespread mass testing, if it was needed. We are definitely not out of the woods yet and need to make sure that we are adhering to the State Orders through the end of April. At the same time, it is time to start looking further down the road with an eye to continuing mitigation strategies in a sustainable manner. This may mean that our “new normal” will look different as we begin to move out of the State Ordered guidelines.
There’s a lot of talk about “opening up the economy” whatever that exactly means. Everyone in Sublette County is painfully aware of the sacrifices we are all making and the hardships we are all experiencing, but also we are very aware that some us, especially certain businesses and the employees of certain businesses and industries, are sacrificing more and experiencing more hardships than the rest of us. Along with that, we have a universal desire to see those hardships eased wherever possible while still maintaining a strong and effective and united mitigation strategy.
We at Public Health and the Sublette County COVID-19 Incident Command have been working on strategies about how to do that to best facilitate this process. Our Multi-Agency Cooperative Group is working on a Sublette County Plan to assist with economic stability in Sublette County. They are looking at ways to stimulate our economy and assist local businesses as we move into the next phase of this pandemic. As County Health Officer, I am working with the County Attorney’s office and the State Health Officer to develop a process to be able to offer exceptions to local businesses to the current State Order closures. This process needs to be established in a fair manner that will allow best practices for prevention of COVID-19 to be approved by the County Health Office after review. We are working on getting this process approved – if and when we can get this process approved, the application process will be widely publicized through our video update next week, website, and Facebook page.
As County Health Officer along with our Public Health Office, we will continue to work with the Governor and our State Health Officer, Dr. Alexia Harrist to implement statewide guidance during this COVID-19 Pandemic We want to support our state and region in keeping our numbers low and prevent further spread within our larger State and regional plans.
In the coming days we will outline how we want to do that. This will require some thought and effort and commitment on our part at Public Health and on the part of the businesses involved. It will also require a process that is formal and rigorous. In that process, my first and foremost role will always be how best to protect all the people of Sublette County from the effects of this coronavirus. Expect that I will be picky and meticulous in the details of this and demanding in the compliance of anyone exempted from the Statewide Order. Additionally, the State Health Officer must approve any actions we take; please keep that in mind. Also, these State Orders have an expiration date of April 30, which is fast approaching--please keep up the diligence locally! Remember that while we are aware that some of us are suffering more from this unusual situation, we are all still truly in this thing together.