The coronavirus is not going to go away any time soon, and the state needs to do something to get ahead of the situation.
That was the thought Rep. Scott Clem, R-Gillete, had when he wrote a letter to Gov. Mark Gordon, asking him to re-evaluate the state’s current approach to combating the pandemic.
Everything that has been done up to this point has been “reactionary,” Clem said, and he believes the state needs to start taking a proactive approach.
“I understand the logic of self-isolating at the very beginning. We were caught really unprepared,” he said. “We weren’t prepared as a nation and a state. Everything we’ve done so far is completely reactionary.”
“Some people think I want to open the economy tomorrow. That would be reckless and foolish,” Clem said.
Instead, Wyoming must prepare to “live with this disease while maximizing economic activity,” Clem said.
He suggested Gordon develop plans to get people back to school and to their jobs.
Wyoming has to prepare for the second and third waves of the coronavirus, Clem said. Most businesses have closed their doors or adjusted the way they deliver services. Companies need a sense of stability during these tough times.
“Business never thrives on uncertainty,” he said.
If the next wave hits and the state closes businesses again, “we’ll plunge ourselves into a greater depression,” Clem said.
Forcing businesses to close and people to keep self-isolating “will result in permanently lost jobs, bankruptcies, suicides, increased mental health conditions, increased crime, loss of liberty, a decrease in government revenues, an increase in utilization of government resources, and an increase in domestic disputes among others,” Clem wrote in his letter.
The state Legislature is considering having a special session to figure out how to use $1.25 billion in federal funding. Clem hopes lawmakers use it in creative ways, like paying for field hospitals and buying or making of medical and personal protective equipment.
“Let’s use our rainy day fund, start brainstorming ways to combat the second and third waves, because it’s going to come,” he said. “At this point, we need to start thinking out of the box.”