Sometimes riding for the brand means doing what is right. It requires making tough decisions that are for the common good but that may not be popular. Due to rising coronavirus cases and very limited hospital space in the state and region, Gov. Mark Gordon was forced to implement a mask mandate this week.

We understand how difficult a decision this must have been for Gordon considering the rugged, independent nature of Wyoming residents. 

Wyoming was one of the last states to hold out on a mask mandate. However, asking residents to take personal responsibility by wearing masks was not working. 

Some argue that Gordon should continue the path of personal responsibility like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. However, that path has become more treacherous for Wyoming as infection rates soared. And, as has been the case across the country, when infection rates increase, so do hospitalizations and deaths. 

In the last seven days, Wyoming has averaged 9.3 deaths per day from COVID and has the third highest coronavirus death rate per capita in the country behind only North Dakota and South Dakota. 

North Dakota’s death rate, though still second highest in the nation, has declined since Republican Gov. Doug Burgum instituted a mask mandate in late November.

Wyoming and South Dakota’s infection, hospitalization and death rates have precipitously climbed during the same time period.

Presently South Dakota’s death rate is 44% higher than any other state. And their infection rate is the fourth highest in the nation. Wyoming does not want to follow in these footsteps.

While we had hoped a mask mandate would not be necessary, the fact is that other meaures were not working. We hope that people will abide by the mandate. Wyoming’s congressional delegation agrees and issued a joint statement late Monday in favor of Gordon’s mandate.

If we want our kids to remain in school, our businesses to stay open and our hospital to be able to function, wearing a mask is imperative.

Gordon also announced limiting occupancy and hours for bars and restaurants. This is concerning. Bars and restaurants were some of the hardest hit businesses this year. They need to be able to serve patrons if they are to stay in business. Small business is vital to Johnson County and Wyoming, making up nearly 99% of all business in the state. Bars and restaurants comprise a huge sector of small businesses locally. We hope that Gordon will continue to work with the Wyoming Liquor Association and Wyoming Hospitality Association to provide additional relief money to those businesses that will be impacted by his most recent order. 

We can do our part too. Shop locally. Buy gift cards at businesses most impacted by these new orders. And, wear your mask to bring infection rates down. A viable, effective vaccine will be approved by the FDA soon and within weeks some doses will be distributed locally. 

Let’s all ride for the brand and finish the job. Together we can get through this pandemic and get back to normal life.

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