There are some in the community who question the effectiveness of social isolation against the coronavirus and view it as a violation of their First Amendment rights.
Three Campbell County residents submitted statements that were read during the public comment period of Tuesday’s regular meeting of the county commissioners. They asked for the local economy to be opened back up from COVID-19-related restrictions.
The county commissioners don’t have the authority to close a business or open it back up, said Commissioner Rusty Bell. Only the governor and the public health officer can do that.
“I will tell you that we do have the authority on our county offices and facilities, but not on any private businesses,” he said.
Vanda Cathey, a registered nurse and board member for the Wyoming Health Freedom group, wrote that requiring people to stay home has caused more harm than good. She claimed that with it comes increased sickness, poverty, domestic abuse, depression and suicide.
Debbie Knutson wrote that “we will likely never know” if the shutdown helped to slow down the coronavirus.
“It is not right that you have closed business and put our community in a situation like this,” wrote Cody Callaway, who asked how many of the commissioners were still getting a paycheck at their regular jobs. “Bet if your pay would stop you would open things up!”
The shutdown is not based on science or data, Cathey wrote. While the government has consulted doctors and experts in infection prevention, it hasn’t consulted “expert model-ists or mathematicians to look at the data.”
“Taking freedoms away in the name of ‘public health’ is tyrannical, draconian and communist in nature,” she wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health “have been wrong many, many times,” Cathey wrote, and she believes the coronavirus is no exception.
She went on to say that only hope to recover from “the mess we’ve been placed in” is to open everything back up.
“Demand that Governor Gordon put Wyoming back to work, allow people back in their churches and our children back to school,” she wrote.
“The people of Campbell County and Wyoming are ambitious, hardworking people that have built vibrant communities across the state,” Knutson wrote. “I hope and pray you will unleash them to continue to do what they do best.”
She asked the commissioners to take action now instead of continually extending closures another two weeks. Doing things in two-week increments “will only serve to instill fear upon the people while taking America down the path of total collapse,” she wrote.
The commissioners said they want to open the county back up, but in a safe way that falls under the guidance of the governor.
“We do need to get things moving toward opening up the whole state and country,” said Commission Chairman D.G. Reardon.
“We have to do what’s prudent,” said Commissioner Del Shelstad. “The state makes the rules, we try to enforce them.”
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect Vanda Cathey's affiliation with the Wyoming health Freedom organization.