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Natrona County to accept requests from businesses for exemptions from public health orders
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Natrona County to accept requests from businesses for exemptions from public health orders

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Old Yellowstone District

People walk through Casper's Old Yellowstone District in 2016. Natrona County health officials say they will now consider exemption request from business owners pertaining to the state's public health orders. Until now, local officials were not accepting exemption requests. 

Natrona County health officials are now accepting requests from businesses to exempt them from the newly extended public health orders.

State health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist extended three statewide orders earlier this week, measures that have been in place for more than a month in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The latest orders are less stringent than previous iterations: They now allow for barbershops, tattoo parlors and similar businesses to reopen with certain restrictions.

Casper-Natrona County Health Department spokeswoman Hailey Bloom said Thursday the county has received requests relating to the state order barring gatherings of 10 or more people. She said the requests could be about church services or dance studios trying to hold recitals. Restaurants who want to have some form of in-person dining may also apply.

The county previously hadn’t issued any exemptions to Harrist’s orders, Bloom said, because “we were getting so many positive cases and we didn’t have the baseline data to make educated decisions one way or another.”

The newest state orders also allow for counties to apply for more or less restrictive orders, depending on their needs. As of Thursday, Natrona County has 39 confirmed cases and 10 probable cases of the disease. It’s unclear if the county will unveil its own orders. At a press conference Wednesday, county spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd said that officials here have “been working diligently ... to formulate a slow and safe opening plan, should one need to be enacted at the local level.”

Businesses seeking to apply for an exemption can do so via the county’s website (natrona.info). The requests will be passed between “a panel of local health, government and industry experts” before being forwarded first to the county’s health officer, Dr. Mark Dowell, and then Harrist.

The process should take 10 days or less, according to the county.

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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