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Wyoming businesses wonder if they'll make it through winter, governor says

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Businesses Adapt to COVID

Grab and Go Gourmet posted signs on their front door alerting patrons to their change in service to pick up or delivery only in response to the rising coronavirus cases Thursday in Casper.

Gov. Mark Gordon struck a sobering tone when speaking about the state of Wyoming’s small businesses going into winter, as coronavirus cases surge out of control.

The statewide spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks has left hundreds of businesses at a loss for how to stay open and continue making ends meet. Employees have fallen ill or been exposed to the virus in droves, forcing business owners to cut shifts or close. Many have reached out to the governor for help in letters and calls.

“I’ve asked businesses if they think they’ll make it through next year,” Gordon said during a press conference held Friday morning. “And I’ll tell you people, there’s not a lot of hope out there.”

“We’ve had more businesses close down around the state because of sick workers than by any of our health orders,” he added.

The $450 million in CARES Act funding dedicated to propping up businesses across the state during the pandemic is on track to expire at the end of the year, the governor warned.

Over 35% of the federal funding spent thus far in Wyoming has been dedicated to “economic“ and “business relief,” with $337 million distributed as of Nov. 2.

That’s more than any other spending category, according to state data.

“That money runs out in a little bit over a month, and there isn’t anything on the horizon,” Gordon said.

The high rates of COVID-19 cases in Wyoming have also depressed economic activity and deterred some customers from coming to the state or spending money here.

“We’re seeing most people go down to Colorado because it’s safer down in Colorado than it is here in Wyoming,” Gordon said.

“How’s that for our economy?” he exclaimed.

The governor issued a plea to Wyomingites to “step up” and take preventative measures, like mask wearing and social distancing.

“Our state is under the most strain it has seen since it began and it’s not letting up,” he said of the pandemic. “It’s going straight up.”

Follow the latest on Wyoming’s energy industry and the environment at @camillereports


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Energy and Natural Resources Reporter

Camille Erickson covers the state's energy industries. She received her master's degree at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Before moving to Casper in 2019, she reported on business and labor in Minneapolis, Chicago and Washington.

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