Elected officials discuss COVID-19 precautions

Teton County Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell speaks during a special joint meeting with town and county officials Monday afternoon, March 16, 2020, at Town Hall. “This is the biggest decision I’ve made in my professional career,” Dr. Riddell said about the prospect of implementing countywide health orders. “I hope there’s no bigger decision that follows this.”

The Town Council plans to pass an emergency ordinance to close scores of businesses in town, if state officials don’t approve an identical measure today.

The ordinance would shutter theaters, bars, nightclubs, tasting rooms, coffee/tea shops, employee cafeterias, self-serve buffets, salad bars, unpackaged self-serve food services and museums. It would also close communal pools, hot tubs, locker rooms, saunas, steam rooms, fitness centers, gyms, conference rooms and spas. The ordinance has some exemptions for take-out food from restaurants.

Teton County Public Health Officer Travis Riddell is working to gain approval from State Health Officer Alexia Harrist. She seems likely to sign off on the order but hasn’t yet.

If the council doesn’t hear back from the state by 3 p.m. today, it will pass its ordinance. Then, if the state approves it afterward, the town will repeal its ordinance, as the state’s will supersede it.

One way or the other, the businesses included in this drastic effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 can expect to shut down indefinitely, perhaps as soon as the end of the business day.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

(4) comments

TERRENCE MILAN

Any expectations of how long? Many businesses here close during the shoulder season anyway. Did he mention when the ban would lift? Also, not sure how effective this will be. From the sounds out back, people will just take their drinking elsewhere. Still a high risk of the community spread.

Martin Rogers

I guess that sounds reasonable since Teton county and Jackson hole have lost so many people to this virus, oh wait no deaths. But then the city and county have been overwhelmed with the number of cases, oh wait no cases in either city or county. So yea I'd be in favor of destroying all the city and county's businesses and tax revenue for a threat that has not even presented itself. I can see the Governor declaring a state of emergency he needs the cash from the feds. But destroying the states economy to get a little money from the feds seems a bit extreme. And how many deaths in WY? Oh but we do have two cases.

WOW just WOW.

Jim Little Jr.

Martin, if we wait for people to die in Teton County, it will be far, far to late to intervene. Our health care providers are trying to PREVENT people from getting sick and dying. The mortality rate for this infection is averaging around 2% of people infected. It may be as low as 1% in places, and as high as 7% in Italy currently. The death rate in patients over 65 is far higher than that, and lower in the younger population. If we assume a 2% mortality rate, which is the average, and widespread infection in Teton County, we could see as many as 400 deaths, and many, many more people sick. That would overwhelm our hospital and our community. I’d much rather see things shut down and PREVENT that from happening, than regret not doing it. We need to think about our community, and especially our elderly and at risk citizens. Dr. Little

jason williams

As the owner of two Jackson based businesses I have been impressed and fully supportive of the town's aggressive approach to curbing COVID-19 in our community. It's going to take a community wide effort to beat this thing back and being proactive and cooperative to these efforts is what it is going to take! I am proud to be part of a community that is leading the way for other small communities to do the right thing to protect us all from an unprecedented emergency.

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