Mask mandate in effect in Park County

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 11:43 PM CST
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CODY, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Hospital beds are filling up. The number of COVID cases have hit an all-time high. And public health officials feel their hands are tied.

This week, public health officials from around the state received the welcome news that the State Health Office would support mask mandates in several Wyoming counties, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming exceeded 11,000 this week, with reports of new confirmed cases coming in from every county. Park County, in particular, has almost 400 active cases, and has reported over 1000 since the pandemic began in March.

Bill Crampton, the Public Health Nursing Supervisor for Park County, says that health officials believe the mask mandate that went into effect Wednesday will help save lives and relieve pressure on an overwhelmed health care system.

“Just looking at what’s happening around us,” Crampton notes. “Washington State just this weekend just closed everything down. Michigan is in the process of doing the same thing. Oregon and California, Utah just indicated that they have to go to basically a shutdown, because they are in a position of running out of healthcare providers.”

But Crampton emphasizes that although rumors abound that masks are ineffective, masks are an extremely valuable tool in the attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus - because they trap the transportation mode for the microscopic particles.

“They’re using a means to get around, and in our case it’s our exhaled spit, exhaled moisture from our lungs and everything else,” he explains. “The mask is designed to catch those, and not necessarily the virus particle by itself - because the virus particle by itself isn’t going to exist outside those transport media.”

In response to the announcement, law enforcement officials in Park County released a joint statement that encourages people to wear masks in order to keep businesses open - but notes that they will take appropriate action if it becomes necessary.

In addition to the mask mandate, public health officials ask that each resident take their own individual responsibilities seriously - that includes washing your hands often and avoiding touching your face; staying home when you are sick, regardless of the results of a COVID-19 test; staying six feet away from others except your family group, and avoiding unnecessary gatherings; and cooperating with contact tracers.

Crampton adds that the mandate is short-term, only effective through December 4th, and that further restrictions could occur should the health order not be taken seriously by the public.

“We need to do something on the local level, because stronger restrictions could be coming down the road in the future.”

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