Governor Gordon issues Directive banning vaccine passports (posted 5/11/2021)
Governor Mark Gordon media release
Governor Gordon has issued a directive that prevents state agencies, boards and commissions from requiring "vaccine passports" to access state spaces and state services.
The directive instructs state agencies, boards, and commissions to provide full access to state spaces and state services, regardless of a constituent’s COVID-19 vaccination status.
"Vaccine passport programs have the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized," Governor Gordon said. "They would divide our citizens at a time when unity in fighting the virus is essential, and harm those who are medically unable to receive the vaccine. While I strongly encourage Wyomingites over the age of 16 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, it is a personal choice based upon personal circumstances."
The Governor’s directive further urges counties, cities, and towns in Wyoming, as well as encourages private businesses, to provide full access to public spaces and services, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.
Governor Gordon noted that more than 180,000 Wyomingites have received one of the effective COVID-19 vaccines safely. Both the Governor and First Lady have been vaccinated, and he continues to urge residents to choose to receive the vaccine to protect lives and help Wyoming move closer to ending the pandemic.
A copy of the Governor’s directive may be found here.
Flags Half-Staff notice - In Honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day May 15th (posted 5/11/2021)
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon
Governor Mark Gordon, in recognition of Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week 2021, has ordered both the U.S. and State of Wyoming flags be flown at half-staff statewide on May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Governor Gordon withdraws Wyoming from COVID-era Unemployment Programs (posted 5/11/2021)
Jobs are available; extended unemployment benefits incentivize people not to work
Governor Mark Gordon media release
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has announced that Wyoming will end its participation in federal supplemental unemployment benefits in order to address workforce shortages being felt throughout the state.
The programs were made available through federal laws initiated in response to the pandemic and include Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Continued Assistance to Unemployed Workers Act of 2020. The additional payments will no longer be available to claimants as of June 19, 2021.
"Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go," Governor Gordon said. "I recognize the challenges facing Wyoming employers, and I believe it’s critical for us to do what we can to encourage more hiring. Federal unemployment programs have provided short-term relief for displaced and vulnerable workers at a tough time, but are now hindering the pace of our recovery. People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American."
Effective June 19, 2021, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services will stop paying these benefits to existing claimants and will no longer accept new claims for the following federal UI programs:
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – A $300 per week supplemental payment in addition to other UI benefits.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – An extension of regular UI benefits. Regular UI is limited to 26 weeks. The current version of PEUC would extend UI benefits up to a maximum of 53 additional weeks.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Provided eligibility for many people who would not normally be eligible for UI benefits and who had lost their income due to COVID-19. This includes, for instance, those who were self-employed or those who worked for non-profits or other businesses that were not required to pay UI taxes.
The Department of Workforce Services reminds Wyoming workers that state assistance is available when the FPUC, PEUC and PUA programs end.
"The 20 Workforce Centers around the state have many opportunities to help those who are seeking work," said DWS Director Robin Sessions Cooley. "The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) program and the Workforce Development Training Fund, including our Apprenticeship Grants and Internship Grants, can help a person obtain not just a job, but a career."
The Governor’s decision was welcomed by Chris Brown, Executive Director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association. The hospitality industry was among the hardest hit by the pandemic, but he said the industry is now struggling to hire staff.
"We applaud Governor Gordon’s leadership with this decision and we look forward to providing true Wyoming hospitality to the visiting public as we continue to recover as an industry," Brown said.
Elk calving season begins in Yellowstone National Park (posted 5/7/2021)
You are responsible for your own safety
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park put out this advisory for visitors and their staff.
• Elk calving season will begin soon in Yellowstone National Park.
• Cow elk are much more aggressive towards people during the calving season and may charge or kick.
• Stay alert. Look around corners before exiting buildings or walking around blind spots: cow elk may bed their calves near buildings and cars.
• Keep at least 25 yards from elk at all times.
• If an elk charges you, find shelter in your vehicle or behind a tall, sturdy barrier as quickly as possible.
• You are responsible for your own safety.
• Visit Elk for more information.
COVID-19 reminder for Yellowstone National Park:
Face masks are still required on NPS-administered lands where physical distancing cannot be maintained and in all NPS buildings and facilities. Park operations vary based on local public health conditions. Before visiting, please check the park website to determine its operating status. Additional details are available at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
9 Wyoming rest areas to reopen for the summer travel season (posted 5/6/2021)
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon
Governor Mark Gordon has directed the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) to partner to temporarily reopen and operate nine previously closed rest areas for at least the duration of the 2021 tourist season.
"With the summer season just around the corner, I’m glad we will be able to reopen these facilities to travelers," Governor Gordon said. "We are glad to have this chance to find a temporary solution."
WYDOT and WOT along with the Governor's office will work together to secure a temporary federal funding source to allow the nine rest areas throughout the state to reopen.
"WYDOT is extremely grateful to Governor Gordon and Director Shober for identifying new federal funds to temporarily reopen our rest areas for the tourist season," said WYDOT Director K. Luke Reiner.
Officials closed the rest areas in June 2020 as a cost-savings measure due to budgetary shortfalls.
The nine rest areas include:
Lusk on US 18
Guernsey on US 26
Greybull on US 16
Moorcroft on I-90
Star Valley on US 89
Sundance on I-25
Upton on US 16
Orin Jct on I-25
Chugwater on I-25
"Each of these nine rest areas are a valuable tourism tool, said Diane Shober, executive director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism. "Certainly, a clean facility is important to the visitor experience, but it is also a powerful marketing platform to distribute travel guides and other trip-planning resources. As travelers are stretching their legs, they are also gathering information on local events, attractions, restaurants, campgrounds and lodging, which all can lead to extended stays and increase visitor spending."
The rest areas should reopen ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
Sublette COVID Briefing: May 6, 2021 (posted 5/6/2021)
Sublette County Public Health
The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) has reported 6 new COVID-19 cases in Sublette County since April 29, 2021.
There are currently 5 active cases in Sublette County, with 770 recoveries, and 7 deaths, for a total of 782 cases since the pandemic began.
As of May 6, Sublette County Public Health has fully vaccinated 2,159 people.
5/6/21 — Moderna Vaccine doses given in Sublette County
1st doses = 2,165
2nd doses = 1,949
Total Doses = 4,114
5/6/21— Janssen Vaccine doses given in Sublette County. Sublette County Public Health has resumed administering the Janssen vaccine.
Total Doses Given = 210
If you missed this week’s video briefing, please take a few minutes to watch at the link below. Robin Carnes and Dr. Fitzsimmons talk about local case counts which are continuing to drop, but encourage us all to not delay in seeking help if you are feeling unwell. Plans to move vaccine clinics to smaller venues at the end of May are announced.
Sublette County Public Health Facebook page
Sign up for your COVID vaccine appointment here
Wyoming continues fight against Biden’s oil and gas leasing ban (posted 5/5/2021)
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon
Governor Mark Gordon worked with the Attorney General to file a lawsuit against the Federal de-facto moratorium on oil and gas leasing. This week, the State of Wyoming filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit.
In the filing, Wyoming asks the Federal District Court of Wyoming for an injunction that orders the Secretary to hold quarterly oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming while the case is being considered, and orders the Secretary to hold the March and June 2021 Wyoming federal oil and gas lease sales as soon as reasonably possible.
"The current de facto leasing moratorium is bad policy for Wyoming and contrary to law," Governor Gordon said. "This is a key action to protect the interests of Wyoming and her people."
Filed March 24, Wyoming’s lawsuit states that the Biden Administration’s Executive Order "pausing" oil and gas leasing on Federal lands violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Mineral Leasing Act and the Federal Land Policy Management Act.
The Federal government has until June 1, 2021 to file a response brief. A copy of the motion may be found on the Wyoming Attorney General’s website.
2021 Winter Ozone Season concludes (posted 5/5/2021)
No Ozone Action Days or Ozone Outlooks were issued for the 2021 Winter Ozone season
Wyoming DEQ Air Quality Division
PINEDALE, WYOMING – The 2021 Winter Ozone Season in the Upper Green River Basin (UGRB) concluded March 31 after another year of collaborative partnership in planning and implementing strategies to address the potential formation of winter ozone.
Ground-level ozone is a harmful air pollutant that forms when precursor pollution emissions react chemically in the sunlight. Winter ozone formation in the UGRB is uniquely influenced by adequate amounts of precursor emissions, snow cover, temperature inversions, low winds and sunlight.
As in previous years, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s (WDEQ) Air Quality Division (AQD) worked with the Wyoming Department of Health, industrial operators, environmental groups and the general public in evaluating, monitoring and communicating information about the potential for elevated ozone formation.
The AQD’s two dedicated meteorologists assessed weather models and forecasted every day during the season to determine if meteorological conditions favored potential elevated ozone formation.
This Winter Ozone Season, there were no Ozone Action Days or Ozone Outlooks issued by the AQD’s Ozone Team indicating the possibility of meteorological conditions that could favor elevated ozone formation.
Snow depth is one meteorological condition that is considered in forecasting for elevated ozone. The UGRB snowpack was low-to-moderate for the 2021 Winter Ozone Season.
The AQD’s Monitoring Section monitored air quality conditions at long-term and seasonal locations throughout the UGRB and determined that ozone levels remained below the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) throughout the 2021 Winter Ozone Season.
"I am pleased with all of the work that our AQD staff undertook during this Winter Ozone Season and the continued dialogues and communication with all of our stakeholders," AQD Administrator Nancy Vehr said.
"Addressing winter ozone in the UGRB is always a collaborative effort."
Although Winter Ozone Season has concluded, the general public can still access near-real-time monitoring conditions not just in the UGRB, but statewide, by visiting WyVisNet (www.wyvisnet.com).
U.S. Dept. of Education issues proposed rule prioritizing Critical Race Theory Curriculum in K-12 schools (posted 5/3/2021)
Public comment on Federal rule accepted until May 19
State Superintendent Jillian Balow
MAY 4, 2021 - Below is a SPECIAL STATEMENT from Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow on Proposed U.S. Department of Education Rule Prioritizing Critical Race Theory Curriculum in K-12 Schools
STATE SUPERINTENDENT JILLIAN BALOW'S STATEMENT ON PROPOSED U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RULE PRIORITIZING CRITICAL RACE THEORY CURRICULUM IN K-12 SCHOOLS
CHEYENNE - The U.S. Department of Education has proposed priorities for American History and Civics Education grant programs published in the Federal Register. Those priorities include encouraging districts to use curriculum related to divisive author Ibram X. Kendi and the New York Times "1619 Project." This is an alarming move toward federal overreach into district curriculum and should be rebuked across party lines.
The draft rule is an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history. History and civics should not be secondary to political whim. Instead, history and civics instruction should engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events. For good reason, public schools do not promote particular political ideologies or religions over others. This federal rule attempts to break from that practice and use taxpayer dollars to do just that.
America needs to update and renew our expectations for teaching and learning about history and civics. Every school board, state legislature, and state superintendent should be working to build local consensus about what should be taught and what materials to use in classrooms. Every family should be engaged in activities that ensure the rising generation is properly prepared to be informed citizens. Every student deserves a rich and engaging education about America’s triumphs, treacheries, losses, and victories. Our touchstone is our shared principle that all Americans have infinite value and individual freedom and responsibility. We must strive to find common goals and values as a nation, not tear each other and our country apart.
The proposed federal rule is open for public comment until May 19 and can be accessed here Proposed Priorities – American History and Civics Education, or by using the Google search for "Federal Register American history and civics education." I intend to comment, and I urge you to research the issue and comment if compelled.
Editor’s Note: Critical Race Theory asserts that there is broad societal racism due to white supremacy and is supported by the power of law as a social construction. Studies along this line examine social, cultural and legal issues focusing on the belief there is inherent racism in our society and ingrained social injustice problems and cultural assumptions related to alleged white supremacy.
Critical Race Theory Wikepedia
Sublette COVID Briefing: April 30, 2021 (posted 4/30/2021)
Sublette County COVID-19 case count. The county has a 98%+ recovery rate from this disease.
25% of Sublette County adults vaccinated
Sublette County Public Health
The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) reported 11 new COVID-19 cases in Sublette County since last Friday’s briefing. There are currently 17 active cases in Sublette County, with 752 recoveries, and 7 deaths, for a total of 776 cases since the pandemic began.
As of April 29, Sublette County Public Health has fully vaccinated 2,059 people. According to data from the Wyoming Department of Health, as of April 26, Sublette County has fully vaccinated 25.52% of our adult population over the age of 18, compared to 64.81% of Teton County’s adult population and 31.04% of Sweetwater County’s adult population.
4/29/21 — Moderna Vaccine Doses given in Sublette County
• 1st doses= 2,135
• 2nd doses= 1,874
• Total Doses = 4,009
4/29/21— Janssen Vaccine doses given in Sublette County. Clinics are being scheduled for next week for Johnson & Johnson vaccine--see sign up information below.
• Total Doses Given = 185
If you missed this week’s video briefing, please take a few minutes to watch at the link below. Janna Lee talks about different vaccines and how they work in our bodies, she also announces the implementation of a new vaccine registration system. Dr. Fitzsimmons explains that mRNA vaccines do not alter or change our DNA. April 28, 2021 Sublette COVID-19 community weekly update
Sign up for your COVID vaccine appointment at https://www.sublettewycovid.com/vaccines
Fraud reports surface related to WDH information breach (posted 4/30/2021)
Wyoming Department of Health
The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is warning residents about fraudulent calls from people falsely claiming to represent the department in connection to a recently announced WDH health information breach.
WDH recently described a mistaken exposure of laboratory test result data involving more than 164,000 Wyoming residents and others including hundreds from Colorado. The incident involved COVID-19 and influenza test result data and breath alcohol test result files mistakenly uploaded by an employee to private and public online storage locations on servers belonging to GitHub.com.
Jeri Hendricks, Office of Privacy, Security and Contracts administrator with WDH, said the department is hearing reports of Wyoming residents receiving fraudulent calls from people claiming to represent the department in connection with the breach.
"The callers falsely claim to represent us, say they are calling about the breach and then ask the individuals they’ve reached for insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other financial information. In some instances, it seems they have been able to make it appear as if the calls are coming from state government phone numbers," Hendricks said.
"No one representing the department will ask you for insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or personal financial information. No one representing the department will call you about the breach unless they are returning a call you made to us first," Hendricks said.
Hendricks emphasized the affected files did NOT contain social security numbers, or banking, financial, health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid information but did include name or patient id, address, date of birth, test results and dates of service.
A special WDH information line dedicated to the breach has been established at 1(833) 847-5916. The phone line is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WDH has advised Wyoming residents who received COVID-19 or influenza tests anywhere in the United States between January 2020 and March 9, 2021 but who do not receive a written notice within the next two weeks to call the information line to learn if their information was involved. In addition, anyone who received a breath alcohol test performed by law enforcement in Wyoming between April 19, 2012 and January 27, 2021 who doesn’t receive a letter should also call.
A year of free IdentityForce protection has been offered by WDH to people affected by the breach. IdentityForce provides advanced credit and dark web monitoring, along with identity theft insurance and medical identity theft coverage. Affected individuals can call the WDH information line at 1(833) 847-5916 for an IdentityForce verification code to allow online enrollment for the service.
Scams related to the health information breach should be reported to the Consumer Protection Unit in the Wyoming Attorney General’s office by calling 307-777-6397, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by submitting formal complaints online.
An official WDH notice about the breach can be found online at https://health.wyo.gov/admin/privacy/.
New Oil and Natural Gas Study published of the Greater Green River Basin's Subsurface Geology (posted 4/30/2021)
Wyoming State Geological Survey
Oil and gas production in the Greater Green River Basin of southwestern Wyoming has historically been from conventional, high-porosity reservoirs within well-defined traps. However, developments in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have shifted the overall focus of exploration in Wyoming toward geographically extensive, low-porosity and permeability unconventional reservoirs.
In response to this shift, the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) has published a new oil and natural gas study about the Greater Green River Basin’s subsurface geology. The study establishes a baseline dataset for the stratigraphy and geometry of potential unconventional reservoirs, including the Lewis Shale, Baxter-Hilliard shales, Niobrara Formation, Mowry Shale, and Phosphoria Formation.
"In 2019, 62 percent of the natural gas and 13 percent of the oil in Wyoming was produced from reservoirs in the Greater Green River Basin (GGRB)," says WSGS Director and State Geologist, Dr. Erin Campbell. "Publicly available data on the distribution and thickness of established and potential reservoirs is essential for guiding future exploration in this important region."
For the study, WSGS geologists interpreted the depths to formations, or "formation tops," in more than 2,650 geophysical well logs for formations ranging in age from the Precambrian to the Eocene. The formation tops were used to define type logs for several subregions of the GGRB, generate contour maps of formation structure and thickness for key stratigraphic intervals, and populate WSGS’s spatial database of subsurface oil and gas geology. The study’s dataset also contains well-header information and downhole temperatures for selected wells.
The database is available on the Interactive Oil and Gas Map of Wyoming, where users can view the formation tops and contour maps alongside other GGRB wells, oil and gas fields, and infrastructure. The well data and formation tops are downloadable in tabular format directly from the interactive map. Any future corrections to the dataset will be entered into the WSGS database and automatically updated in the interactive map.
"The interactive oil and gas map aims to be the central location on the web where the public can readily access our agency’s oil and gas data," says WSGS geologist Derek Lichtner. "Whether you’re interested in geologic structure or oil and gas fields and infrastructure, the online map is a good place to start any basin-scale investigation."
The 31-page Open File Report 2021-1—Greater Green River Basin Formation Tops Database, Structure and Thickness Contour Maps, and Associated Well Data, with a focus on Potential Continuous Reservoirs—is available as a free download from the WSGS website. The WSGS welcomes input and discussion, as its geologists hope to continually refine and expand the dataset.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund applications open May 3 (posted 4/28/2021)
Emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, food-related businesses impacted by COVID-19
The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. This program provides emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. Registration for the SBA application portal will begin on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 am ET. Applications will open on Monday, May 3, 2021, at noon ET.
Eligible entities who have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss include:
• Food stands, food trucks, food carts
• Bars, saloons, lounges, taverns
• Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars
• Bakeries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
• Brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
• Breweries and/or microbreweries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
• Wineries and distilleries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
• Inns (onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
• Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products
More info: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/restaurant-revitalization-fund#section-header-7