CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK)-Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is taking a new approach to COVID-19 he hopes will protect the public and keep businesses and schools open. It involves requiring face coverings in certain indoor public settings in all counties, reducing group sizes, and reducing the hours of businesses where virus transmission is more likely.
The changes include a statewide face covering order requiring bars and restaurants to be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., limiting groups of patrons seated together at bars, restaurants, theatres, concert halls and large events to 6, liming group workout classes or gyms to 10 individuals, and other gatherings without required distancing will be limited to 10 individuals.
But, Gordon said counties can opt out of the requirements if local conditions move to safer levels, in accordance with the White House metrics. You can view Wyoming’s metrics here.
“Our state and those surrounding us are facing a hospital capacity crisis that now compels us to take additional action. All through the fall, Wyoming has seen a rise in serious cases of COVID to a point where every county is facing critical and dangerous levels of spread of the virus. Too many people have died,” Governor Gordon said. “Science tells us limiting gatherings of groups and using face coverings are effective in slowing transmission of this virus. With these actions we can avoid taking the more drastic step of closing schools and businesses.”
New health orders were released by State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist Monday. They take effect Wednesday and extend through January 8, 2021. Sixteen Wyoming counties already have county-level orders requiring face coverings. The new orders will not have much impact on those counties.
“I want to thank the majority of Wyoming counties who have taken the lead, and the people who are working hard to protect their friends, neighbors, and colleagues by wearing face coverings. They will make a big difference but it will take time. We stand behind the local actions that are in place. These new orders are meant to support local leadership and we should all know that in Wyoming these mandates are not about citations, but about caring for others,” Governor Gordon said.
Gordon said the use of face coverings is a cost-effective tool that can help reduce hospitalizations and keep businesses the state is at a critical juncture.
“These next few months are going to be challenging for our businesses, citizens, families, and our healthcare workers. This is a necessary step to ensure a happy and healthy holiday season and a safer and Merry Christmas, and set ourselves in good stead for the new year. The deployment of the vaccine in the coming months will help put this awful virus finally at bay and bring us back to some semblance of normal.”
The extension of the face covering requirement was endorsed by the Wyoming Medical Society, Primary Care Association, and Hospital Association.
“We realize that masks are not the cure for COVID, but we know they can be effective in slowing the spread of the virus,” said Eric Boley, CEO of the Wyoming Hospital Association. “Hospitals are reaching capacity and nursing homes are seeing increases in infection rates. Medical staff are exhausted and are wearing thin as they battle this disease. We need to slow the spread and flatten the curve until the vaccine is readily available. It is all worth it if one life is saved by wearing masks.”
Here are the amended Wyoming health orders. Order 4 is the newest, requiring facemask coverings.