Hostile Crowd Shuts Down Informational Casper Meeting

Nov 3, 2020

A joint news conference between the Casper City Council and the Natrona County Board of County Commissioners meant to address the current surge of COVID-19 cases in Casper had to be adjourned when a hostile crowd would not stop shouting over local officials and medical experts. Most of the heckling downplayed the seriousness of the virus.

In the last two weeks, ten people have died from COVID-19 in Casper. And Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) is struggling with a high volume of hospitalizations, 30 as of Monday. Dr. Ghazi Ganem is a doctor at WMC who specializes in infectious disease. Before the meeting was cut off, he pleaded to the public.

"You cannot tell me what I am going through because you have not been in my shoes, taking care of people dying and looking at you and telling you, 'Doc, my wife told me I need to make peace with the Lord because I can die, is that true?' And 'I said sir, we are all going to try to do the best we can for you.'"

Some of the interruptions from the crowd had to do with a misconception that only certain parts of the population have to be concerned about the virus. While some are at a higher risk of complications or death from COVID-19, Dr. James Bleicher, C.E.O. of Wyoming Medical Center, pushed against what he called the "cavalier way" the crowd had been dismissing those with chronic diseases.

"Over 40 per cent of this country is obese. That's one of the highest risk factors. So I don't understand why you argue that someone with diabetes, or hypertension, or obesity, or heart disease, should die. How does that make sense?" he said.