UP to Gov. Mark Gordon and Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins for meeting weekly at various local restaurants to raise awareness of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, as well as discuss important issues.
We believe this is more than just a public relations effort. The fact Mayor Collins and Gov. Gordon are spending this time discussing key issues can’t help but have long-term benefits for both Wyoming’s largest city and the state as a whole.
We applaud both men for making the time to do it, and we look forward to hearing more about the fruits of these conversations.
DOWN to members of the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee for failing to advance House Bill 162, the Medical treatment opportunity act.
One of two Medicaid expansion bills filed this year, it is now just the latest in a series of failed efforts to expand federal health care coverage to those earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level (just $17,774 a year for individuals). After more than a decade of rejecting the expansion offered by the Affordable Care Act, it seemed as if the feds promising to pay the state’s share meant it might actually pass this year.
That wasn’t guaranteed, of course, because the Senate had rejected its own version of Medicaid expansion earlier in the session, and HB 162 had passed the House by a narrow 32-28 margin. But instead of allowing the full 30-member Senate to debate the merits of this expansion proposal, three selfish lawmakers – two from here in Laramie County – stopped it dead in its tracks.
If there were a Wyoming Legislature Hall of Shame, we would quickly induct Sens. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne; Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne; and Troy McKeown, R-Gillette, for this vote alone.
Many other committees this session opted to advance bills to the floor, rather than kill them at the committee level, even if the majority of committee members weren’t convinced. Yet these three senators let their personal feelings get in the way of a debate Wyoming residents deserved to see, and kept an estimated 25,000 Wyoming residents from having health coverage for at least another year.
There’s only one word for such a heartless attitude toward the state’s most vulnerable residents: Shameful.
UP to the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department for holding a three-day COVID-19 vaccination clinic this week at the Emerson Building downtown to administer first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. On Friday, it will host a one-day clinic for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the health department, 100 Central Ave. (To schedule an appointment, go to https://tinyurl.com/lcjandjclinic4-19-21.)
City-County Health Executive Director Kathy Emmons said more clinics will be held in the coming weeks as more vaccine doses arrive in the Cowboy State. And, of course, vaccines are available from at least 20 local pharmacies and medical clinics in the county (see our map at WyomingNews.com). But now that anyone in the state 16 and older who wants the vaccine can get it, access isn’t really the main concern.
According to reporting in the Casper Star-Tribune, the state ranked second-to-last in a U.S. Census Bureau survey of unvaccinated residents who said they would get a vaccine. The latest survey suggests fewer than 27% of unvaccinated Wyomingites will accept a shot. And the University of Wyoming’s Survey and Analysis Center reports that nearly 40% of residents likely won’t be making an appointment.
Why not? The top two reasons are concerns about safety and side effects. Which is why it’s more important than ever for people to educate themselves about the facts related to the vaccines. (If you’re among this group, we encourage you to start here: https://tinyurl.com/safetyofcovidvaccine.) Yes, for most people, there are a few minor side effects. But ask anyone who’s had it, and they’ll confirm: they sure beat even a mild case of COVID-19.
UP to the Cheyenne City Council for holding seven public work sessions to discuss city needs and the possibility of adding them to the next sixth-penny sales tax ballot.
So far, there have been four noon-hour sessions – on greenway construction and maintenance; Cheyenne Fire Rescue requests; several Downtown Development Authority alley enhancements and the Municipal Building renovation project – with the remaining three next week focusing on Cheyenne Police Department radios and digital storage; Community Recreation and Events projects and Cheyenne road maintenance.
Holding these at lunchtime allows the public to listen in, and because they are livestreamed on Facebook and recorded, those interested in commenting can watch them at their leisure, as well.
Based on past experiences, we hope city leaders get detailed cost estimates for these projects before putting them on the ballot. If they do so, we anticipate a well-developed, well-prioritized list to vote on this fall.