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Wyoming is lifting its mask mandate. We answered a few questions about the change.
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Wyoming is lifting its mask mandate. We answered a few questions about the change.

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Snow falls on the statue by artist James Haire of three children outside the Natrona County Public Library in Casper on Oct. 2, 2020. The state's face mask order will be lifted Tuesday, and Natrona County officials do not plan to implement a local one.

Gov. Mark Gordon’s office more details Friday afternoon about the largest change to the state’s COVID-19 response since December.

Beginning Tuesday, residents will no longer be required to wear masks in many public settings, according to public health orders released Friday. Restrictions on restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms will also be lifted.

The health orders come four months into the state’s vaccination efforts and as COVID-19 cases in Wyoming continue to fall.

Here’s what we know so far about how these changes might affect you.

What exactly is changing?

Starting Tuesday, masks won’t be required in most public places, though experts still recommend them.

Additionally, bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms will be allowed to resume “normal operations,” with no pandemic-related public health restrictions.

What health orders will still be in effect?

Just two orders will remain beginning Tuesday.

One order deals with K-12 schools, child care providers, and colleges and universities.

The other order deals with gatherings and events.

The first order continues to require masks and other procedures to be kept at schools, universities and at child care centers.

The second order continues to limit certain public gatherings but eases the prior rules slightly. The new order lifts all restrictions on gatherings of fewer than 500 people. Indoor gatherings up to 1,000 people are permitted, depending on a venue’s capacity. Masks are still required. Gatherings up to 2,000 outdoors are permitted.

The orders have been extended to March 31.

What is Double Masking?. With the spread of the COVID-19 variants, double masking, or wearing two masks at once, “just makes common sense,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Though the CDC has not officially recommended double masking, health experts have encouraged layering up. Wearing two [masks] will likely give you more protection — between 15 and 20%, Emergency physician Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, via Bustle. Doctors recommend a triple-layer cloth mask with an additional filter layer to protect against the coronavirus. If you don’t have a triple-layer mask, a paper surgical mask can be made more effective by layering a cloth mask on top. Ultimately, the key to effective double masking is a well-fitting mask that is snug around your mouth and nose

Will children still have to wear masks at school?

Masks are still required on K-12 campuses. Children under three years old are exempt from mask requirements.

Will I need a mask at the University of Wyoming or other higher education campuses?

Yes. The existing health orders require face masks in most public settings on college and university campuses in the same clause of the health order that deals with K-12 schools.

Additionally, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said the university has no plans to relax its mask requirement.

Where else will I still need to wear a mask?

As was the case before the statewide mask order was enacted, local jurisdictions can impose their own orders. Teton County will reportedly seek its own. Natrona County officials said they will not. It’s unknown what officials in other jurisdictions are considering.

Masks are required on federal property and at businesses that choose to require them.

What businesses and establishments does the change affect?

  • Restaurants;
  • Bars;
  • Theaters;
  • Gyms; and
  • Any place that previously required a face mask, which was most public settings.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's abrupt decision to get rid of the state's mask mandate is causing confusion and tension in his state.Customers at one Mexican restaurant berated the staff and threatened to call immigration officials because employees were wearing masks. The owner says it's something the restaurant has seen through the entire pandemic. A number of businesses in the state have decided to keep mask rules in place, despite the governor's ruling.

Will restaurants and theaters have to follow any health orders?

Such entities will still need to abide by health and safety laws, but beginning Tuesday, no statewide public health order will exist related to them.

Private businesses are able to enact their own rules and restrictions.

How is Wyoming handling the pandemic?

Officials are generally optimistic about the state’s direction in limiting the amount of COVID-19 here. Eighteen people were hospitalized for the virus statewide Friday, down from the peak of nearly 250, according to Wyoming Department of Health data. There were fewer than 500 active total infections Friday across Wyoming, down from the nearly 12,000 active cases in late November.

Fully Vaccinated People Can Safely Gather With Non-Vaccinated People. On Monday, the CDC released guidance on safe activities for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. . A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final shot, as the body has had enough time to build up antibodies. . Fully vaccinated people can safely congregate indoors with other fully vaccinated people without safety measures, such as physical distancing or mask-wearing. . They can also have small gatherings with other households, even if that group contains non-vaccinated people. . This is very welcome guidance … This opens the door for grandparents to meet with their children and grandchildren without masks, indoors, for a nice group hug, Dr. Richard Besser, via NBC News. The caveat is that the non-vaccinated people should not be at risk of severe COVID-19, as there may still be a risk of transmission. . COVID-19 mitigation measures should also still remain status quo in public places. . This includes frequent hand washing, wearing masks and avoiding crowded areas. . We’re still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 … We’re still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease, CDC, via statement

How many people in Wyoming have been vaccinated?

More than 114,000 Wyomingites have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. More than 70,000 people in the state have received two vaccine doses.

Officials don’t know exactly when supply will pick up in the state, but federal officials are hopeful any willing adult will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May.

Most counties are still in phase 1b of vaccination, which includes residents 65 and older, residents with certain health conditions and employees in a number of front-line industries.

Follow health and education reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @m0rgan_hughes


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Health and education reporter

Morgan Hughes covers health and education in Wyoming. After growing up in rural Wisconsin, she graduated from Marquette University in 2018. She moved to Wyoming shortly after and covered education in Cheyenne before joining the Star-Tribune in May 2019.

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