Casper City Council Authorizes Funding for COVID-19 Response
The City of Casper now has the authority to allocate funding to the Emergency Operation Center set up by state and local governments, government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit corporations that are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, no council members discussed what, if any, city programs will lose funding with the allocations.
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Casper City Council -- meeting by video conference call with Mayor Steve Freel and council member Ray Pacheco the only ones in council chambers -- unanimously passed a resolution allowing the city to allocate vehicles, personnel, equipment and money to the EOC.
The council also passed a secondary resolution recognizing the Natrona County Commission's work with the EOC and a second layer of transparency.
On March 20, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department declared a state of emergency in the county after President Donald Trump and Gov. Mark Gordon declared national and state's emergencies respectively on March 13, according to the memo to City Manager Carter Napier about the COVID-19 response on the city council's agenda for the Tuesday meeting.
As of Tuesday evening, the Wyoming Department of Health has reported 26 positive cases in Natrona County and 221 cases statewide.
The resolution authorizes the allocations in $50,000 increments from the general fund. The first allocation will go to the Emergency Operations Center itself. The city manager has the authority to allocate the second $50,000 increment.
The resolution also authorizes the city manager to allocate $25,000 to the Casper-Natrona County Health Department to support the staffing of three proposed quarantine centers at the former Westwood Elementary School, the Casper Events Center, and possibly the Casper Recreation Center.
Council member Steve Cathey said the resolution is part of the chain of command through state and federal governments.
Cathey added that people are concerned about possible federal overreach, but the resolution keeps everyone on the same page in dealing with a disaster.
Freel said the allocated funding will be used to pay for volunteers and nurses who will need to care for patients about to be released from the Wyoming Behavioral Institute.
Many of those patients have no where to go, and they need to be monitored to ensure that they are not carriers of the novel coronavirus, Freel said.
Half the identified cases in Natrona County have been with people affiliated with the WBI, he said.
Several council members including Mike Huber and Ken Bates complimented the first responders, health care providers and residents for their work and
"More importantly, don't live in fear and [people should] keep living their lives," Bates said. "We're going to get through it."
The Emergency Operation Center's members are:
- City of Casper.
- Casper-Natrona County Health Department.
- Natrona County.
- Town of Evansville.
- Casper College.
- Wyoming Rescue Mission.
- Casper/Natrona County International Airport.
- Town of Mills.
- Natrona County School District.
- Casper Mountain Fire Department.
- Wyoming Medical Center.
- Wyoming Department of Transportation.
- Natrona County Fire Protection District.