After months of saying mask orders should be left up to local jurisdictions, Wyoming’s public health officials have issued a mandate that says masks should be worn in most businesses across the state.
“One of the primary reasons that we are acting now is that we are continuing to see high numbers of hospitalizations and situations where our hospitals are concerned about their ability to have enough staff on hand,” State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist said during a Monday news conference.
The state’s mask order has similar language to many around the state, including the original Teton County mandate that went into place in July. The current local order includes different language on what defines a business and where employees must wear masks.
For places like that have stronger orders, the local version stands, rather than being superseded by the state mandate, Harrist said Monday. However, Teton County Deputy Attorney Keith Gingery said in an email Tuesday that the state order says it should.
For Teton County, nothing will change because the state and county order are the same.
The statewide mask edict was part of a slate of updates to state health orders that attempt to curb the high number of COVID-19 cases. Though cases have declined in the past three weeks, national health officials have projected high numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
The state is trying to bring down the number of cases in the face of that potential.
“I do hope these declines continue,” Harrist said. “We need to see sustained declines and get our levels of transmission to a much lower place.”
In the new orders, indoor gatherings have been reduced to 10 people; no more than six people who aren’t from the same household can sit together at a restaurant table; no more than 10 people can participate in a group workout class; and organized sporting events can have 12 people, down from 25.
The updated and new orders go into effect Wednesday, and they will remain in place at least through Jan. 8.
Go to COVID19.Wyo.gov to read the orders in full.
This article has been updated to show that Teton County's mask order is the same as the state's. — Eds.