Gov. Mark Gordon holds a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution at a 2020 press conference about COVID-19 and his administration’s response. (Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle/Wyoming News Exchange)

As Wyoming’s COVID-19 crisis reaches a fever pitch, the Wyoming Republican Party’s governing body passed a resolution calling on Gov. Mark Gordon to rescind his declaration of a state of emergency.

Gordon’s declaration, passed March 13 by executive order, directed the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to take actions to respond to the virus. It created legal authority for the subsequent public health orders that early on included closing businesses and to date impose some restrictions on businesses and public places.

A copy of the resolution posted to Facebook by the Goshen County Republicans argues Wyoming is not experiencing an unduly high number of deaths from COVID-19 and that the orders were only intended to “flatten the curve” at the virus’s onset. 

“The state’s restrictions on the right of individuals and business owners to make a living in support [of] themselves and their families continues to greatly damage the citizens and economy of the Great State of Wyoming,” the resolution reads. It then calls on Gordon to “immediately rescind” his declaration of a state of emergency. 

Wyoming Republican Party chairman Frank Eathorne and executive director Kathy Russell did not respond to requests for comment from WyoFile. 

The resolution was passed Nov. 14 at the Wyoming State Republican Central Committee meeting in Newcastle, according to the document. As of Monday afternoon, the Wyoming Republican Party had not posted the resolution to its own Facebook page or its website.

However, the party’s central committee sent a copy of the resolution to Gordon, his spokesperson Michael Pearlman said. The central committee, made up of party members elected at the county level, sets the platform and policy positions of the state’s dominant political party. 

The governor’s office did not have any comment on the resolution, Pearlman said. 

Gov. Mark Gordon’s spokesperson said the Wyoming Republican Party’s state central committee sent a copy of this resolution, which was posted on Facebook by the Goshen Republican Party, to the governor. (Screenshot of a Facebook post)

The central committee has sought to exert increasing influence over the votes and positions of state Republican lawmakers over the last few years, extolling them to vote in accordance with central-committee approved positions at least 80% of the time. A copy of the resolution will be sent to all Republican state senators and state representatives as well as the Wyoming Supreme Court, the resolution states.

Some of those GOP lawmakers are sick. Two prominent state senators — Senate President Drew Perkins and Senate Mineral Committee Chairman Jim Anderson — recently announced they were infected with COVID-19. Rep. Roy Edwards, a conservative stalwart who also pushed back against health orders, died Nov. 2 after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

Gordon indicated in a Nov. 13 press conference that officials were crafting new public health orders as a COVID-19 surge rocks the state. 

Officials have reached out to business leaders and local officials while crafting those orders to generate “buy-in” from leaders around the state, Pearlman said after the press conference. 

Wyoming had 191 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Monday, according to the Department of Health. The agency announced 17 more COVID-19-related deaths Saturday. More than half of the state’s 144 deaths have been announced in the last month. The state currently has the fourth highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 according to New York Times data.

Gordon has consistently called on citizens to exercise personal responsibility by wearing masks, keeping their distance from one another and practicing good hygiene. He has touted his government’s “light touch” in imposing orders and has to date avoided a statewide mask mandate or more restrictive rules on bars, restaurants and public spaces. 

We’ve relied on people to be responsible, and they are being irresponsible,” Gordon said at the press conference. Gordon declined to elaborate on particular forthcoming orders, but said a mask mandate is not off the table. “There will be changes,” he said. “They will be more restrictive. We are looking at every aspect of what we can do.” 

More businesses have closed because of sick employees as the virus runs rampant through Wyoming towns and cities than because of public health orders, Gordon said. Some of the state’s key industries, like trona mining, are suffering productivity slowdowns because of COVID-19 cases, he said. 

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Andrew Graham

Andrew Graham is reporting for WyoFile from Laramie. He covers state government, energy and the economy. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at andrew@wyofile.com, follow him @AndrewGraham88

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  1. Andrew – I am happy to report that on Tuesday night, Nov. 17, during a Zoom meeting of the Laramie County Central Committee, which includes precinct people, voted this down by a vote of 62% against it! There are some sane people in the party. Many of us support Governor Gordon in his efforts to protect our citizens.
    I have heard that only three counties have passed it so far! (But that may have changed by now.)

  2. Per haps our current Republicans are liking into olden times conservative likened to the Middle Ages and curses and spells were assigned to witches. That seems to me what they are saying now.

  3. Does the Wyoming State Central Republican committee oppose Coggins Testing of horses, Brucellosis testing and monitoring of cattle, and rules regarding pasteurization of milk? These laws are all intended to protect human health and economic activities.

    These health and safety tests and rules all require more effort and expense than wearing a simple and inexpensive mask or standing apart from one another or washing our hands. Our local doctors, nurses and health official tell us to take this action to protect ourselves, family members, and community. These folks are real experts (not TV experts) who treat people who may have this dread disease. In other words, our medical experts do not practice their profession in a TV studio and likely have first hand experience treating folks with this disease. What we have seen in Casper and Gillette meetings is that loud, boisterous, and uneducated crowds (who follow the TV personalities) shouted down these professionals at public meetings. We are all paying for that right now.

    Since we first were faced with this disease about eight months ago, 247,000 American citizens, including many health care providers and first responders, have died from COVID. In comparison, during WWII we lost about 407,000 servicemen and women and during the Viet Nam war (1964-1975) we lost about 58,000 servicewomen and men.

    It is time for us to get real and take the action we are advised to take by our leaders. I don’t know who is on this State Republic Committee but I hope they all spend a week or so caring for people suffering and dying from COVID. Maybe then it will make sense for them follow health precautions for COVID just as faithfully and they would for Coggins and Brucellosis testing. It is time to grow up, get up and smell the coffee

  4. I suggest these Republicans pull their guns out and shoot themselves in the foot. When they go to the emergency room for care and can’t get in because of Covid maybe they’ll get it!

  5. We should require appropriate citations for any resolution making a fact-based statement e.g.,” . . .the the overall number of Wyoming death has remained consistent over the last decade.” Where in the world did this information come from? The WYSAC study aside – thank you, Mr. O’Toole – an analysis of death rates by state throughout the US shows substantial increases in every state except Alaska. Wyoming is 11% above the “normal” death rate. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/05/us/coronavirus-death-toll-us.html

  6. Total publicity stunt to pander to the Trump base vs “normal” Republicans – just like all the “non-binding” resolutions county commissioners across the state have been doing. I personally don’t think Gordon has done enough because he’s tried to treat citizens like adults that will make the right choices….maybe the businesses in Laramie that have had to close for periods of time due to not having enough staff to work would like to chime in on how ignoring the virus is working for them. We “should” still be trying to flatten the curve and not building a mountain!
    My son had a non-covid related health emergency that required late night ER visits to hospitals in Park City, UT and then to the University of Utah Hospital – this was back in April. I was so thankful that because people were actually trying to “flatten the curve” he was able to get the medical attention he needed during what we thought, at the time, was near the peak of the virus. I couldn’t imagine what would happen if he was to get sick now. I feel for the families of those with Covid that require hospitalization, but also for every one else who requires medical attention and hospitalization for ailments and emergencies that are still happening on top of Covid.
    Come on GOP – when are you going to step up and start leading and being part of the solution instead of the constant whining and being part of the problem – or even making the problem worse?!?

  7. My wife, a life-long republican, asked this morning after reading this article, “So what are they saying, we don’t care if people die? This is not the Republican party I joined forty years ago.”

    1. Nope. It is now Frank Eathorne’s, the Hageman clan’s, and the Steinmetz’ Republican party. “Die for our Brand” seems to be the official party platform now.

  8. If Trumps own CDC Team is saying wear masks, social distance and wash hands, I say do it. We all know Trump can’t be wrong.

  9. I continue to be utterly appalled at the selfish, arrogant behavior of the Wyoming Republican Party leadership. What makes them think that, because they are not getting as rich as they would like as fast as they would like, I should have to curtail my life and risk my health? Gordon, GIVE US A STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE AND ORDER ENFORCEMENT IMMEDIATELY. And do the other sensible things that a public health emergency demands–close the bars, drastically cut back on the size of public gatherings, reduce restaurant capacity, close gyms, barbers and beauty salons!

  10. I have a modest proposal: for anyone who opposes masks and believes personal liberty is more important than protecting one’s neighbors: These people should sign a pledge that they will not go to the hospital if they get sick. This will protect our health care workers and hospital capacity so the hospitals can serve people who have tried to be safe. Since medical experts are now talking openly about rationing care, the people who don’t believe in COVID can go to the bottom of the list.

  11. Sorry folks, that is not wise. Your actions will make people sick or possibly die, like your fellow legislator last week. This mind-numb action is not unlike Manlove issuing an idiotic press release saying she would not enforce the Albany County mask mandate. If you don’t want to enforce it, okay, but don’t issue a press release. Don’t wonder why many people are laughing at her and why the citizen legislature of Wyoming continues to act as one of the very dumbest ones in our great nation. Work together and stop being obstinate for the sake of nothing but harming other Wyoming residents. The gov’s actions are NECESSARY and reasonable when so many have died. Patience, not knee-jerk reactions are what is now needed.

  12. – This is a terrible idea as when I went to Murdoch’s in Laramie for a quick run in and out to get one item I needed, there were more people not wearing masks than were. I routed my way through aisles where there were no people to avoid this. I wil not go back and shop there. They are not only endangering themselves but others like me.

    I went to Centennial for a birthday dinner and luckily our waitress was wearing a mask and keeping her distance. The tables and parties dining (2 other groups) were well spaced. But out of 4 staff I saw working only our waitress wore a mask. I would have left otherwise.

    Wake up Wyoming!