Teton Barber reopens

Mike Randall talks with a client before beginning a haircut appointment May 11 at Teton Barber Shop. A Teton County health order keeping salons, barber shops, gyms and child care centers closed expired last week.

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Don’t take off those masks just yet.

Though many health orders have been relaxed and some businesses have begun to open, the majority of the community should continue to wear masks, health officials stressed at Friday’s community COVID-19 update.

Doing so, they said, will help control the spread of the coronavirus, which in addition to keeping people healthy will keeps businesses open.

Teton County District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell said one model showed that 80% of community members wearing masks where close contact is possible would amount to a 12-fold decrease in disease transmission.

“However, if only 30% or 40% of people in the community wear masks,” Riddell said, “transmission rates are really minimally affected.”

Likewise, Teton County Director of Health Jodie Pond said research indicates that wearing masks can keep the community infection rate low enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19, since the key transmission route for the coronavirus responsible for the illness is droplets “that fly out of our mouth.”

Even a cotton mask can block 99% of those virus-tainted droplets, she said.

“Each one of us,” she said, “has the power to halt this disease in its tracks.” But only if nearly everyone goes along with wearing masks.

COVID-19 has been hard to control partly because people start spreading it before they show symptoms.

“Three recent studies show that nearly half of patients are infected by people who aren’t coughing or sneezing yet,” Pond said. “We can make a difference. Please wear a mask in public.”

Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon pointed out that everybody in Town Hall for the Friday update was wearing a mask.

Gopaul Noojibail, acting superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, confirmed the park will open at noon Monday for day use, the same time as Yellowstone National Park. Visitors will be able to access park roads, pathways, trails and some restrooms.

Noojibail said the park has increased its custodial staff to ensure there are enough people to sanitize park bathrooms on a more frequent schedule during this first phase of reopening.

With most services still closed for now, visitors are likely to bring their own food. The park asks visitors who pack in picnics to remember to also pack out their trash. Having visitors handle their own trash is another way to reduce points of contact for spreading coronavirus, Noojibail said.

“Visitors are going to be urged to be responsible and to do their part,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to be the social distancing police, but we are going to do everything we can to make sure that visitors understand what the expectation is going to be.”

Noojibail emphasized that park staff will model desired distancing behaviors, including maintaining 6 feet between others and spreading the message about safe practices via social media and other channels.

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

(2) comments

William Pembroke

We can accept living in fear of catching a virus that we may get or may have already had from someone who may or may not have it. The one thing I know is the so called experts have not been very expert about anything regarding this virus and illness. They are becoming more "expert" by experience, just like all of us.

The so called experts have been essentially wrong about this virus from the beginning with the exception of one thing - if you are elderly or have underlying health issues, be very aware and overly cautious. This is true for any virus, doesn't take an expert.

Any study is nothing more than a study. Models are nothing more than a series of complicated subjective calculations that need to be calibrated to have any reliability. It takes time and repeated observations to determine the validity of a study or model.

And as usual, a good bit of common sense goes along way.

Susan Crosser

Nearly 50% get infected by people who don't show symptoms (or don't show symptoms yet if ever) and yet we've let 2 months go by without testing for those people. All this emphasis and doing everything we can to stem the spread, but we've constantly ignored the need to test people with no symptoms !. Why have we sent so few tests to the state lab ? Why do the ads run by the hospital constantly discourage people from getting tested UNLESS they have symptoms. When will our local healthcare system recognize to test ASYMPTOMATIC ? Whoopie we now have some machine, but can't use it because of lack of supplies, so we wasted two months when we could have been gathering data.

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