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Wyoming now without any statewide health orders related to COVID-19
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Wyoming now without any statewide health orders related to COVID-19

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Mask

Michelle Ward wears a face mask as she gets her hair cut by stylist Audrey Bennett at Rootz Salon in Casper on May 1, 2020. As of Tuesday, there are no longer any statewide health orders in place in Wyoming related to COVID-19.

As expected, the state of Wyoming entered June without any remaining health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state health department announced late last month that it was immediately eliminating one of the two health orders that were then in place: a requirement that indoor events of more than 500 people be held at a maximum of 50% of a venue’s capacity and that face masks and social distancing be required at such events.

The state said May 21 that it planned to allow the other coronavirus health order — one mandating face masks and social distancing at K-12 schools — to expire on June 1. Wyoming Department of Health spokesperson Kim Deti confirmed Friday that the state had decided against renewing the order.

Even the final remaining health order was only in effect for part of the state; more than half of Wyoming’s school districts, including the Natrona County School District, had received permission from the state health officer to lift the mask requirement. (In its May 21 announcement, the state also immediately removed the mask mandate for colleges in Wyoming.)

On the flip side, two counties in Wyoming still have districts with local health orders in effect related to face masks, according to Deti: Teton and Albany counties.

With one month left to reach President Biden's goal of vaccinating 70% of adults against COVID-19, millions of Americans still haven't gotten their shots. The director of the National Institutes of Health tells Newsy why he thinks people are still hesitant."Some of them, I think, are skeptical about the vaccine. Some may have heard various rumors or conspiracies about the dangers associated with it. Some of them are people of faith who aren't quite sure that this is necessarily part of God's plan. Some of them have been influenced by politics," Dr. Francis Collins said. According to a recent Census Bureau survey, over half of Americans who are hesitant to get vaccinated say it's because they are worried about negative side effects. Forty-six percent also say they don't trust the vaccine, and more than a third, 37%, said they don't trust the government. States in the South and West are the most hesitant.White House officials say they are working with evangelical church leaders and trusted community leaders to reach these groups, but admit to Newsy they know some Americans just can't be convinced at least not yet. They dismissed the idea that former President Trump could be a secret weapon to convince his supporters, many of whom are holding out on getting vaccinated. Dr. Collins says the best way to reach people who are resisting the vaccines is listen, don't lecture: "I want to hear, 'OK, tell me what your concerns are.' And oftentimes, they're not what I would have guessed. People have different approaches to this. And oftentimes, they are things that are amenable to a conversation if we can just get the conversation started and not turn it into a lecture."Hesitancy is highest among people under 40 and those without a college degree.

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State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist previously said that the state was letting the health orders expire because the COVID-19 vaccine had been readily available for anyone in Wyoming who wants one for a while now.

“We are making these changes now because we are confident in the effectiveness of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines,” Harrist said. “We are seeing excellent results among those who have been vaccinated. The vaccines are doing their job very well.”

Wyoming’s vaccination rate is still well behind the national average. As of Friday, more than 201,000 Wyomingites had received at least one dose of a vaccine from the state’s supply. According to the New York Times, 32% of Wyoming residents had been vaccinated as of Friday, the sixth lowest of any state and below the national rate of 41%.

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Wyoming has ticked up lately, reaching as high as 58 on May 24. And on May 25, six new COVID-19 deaths were announced, the most in a day since March 9.

Still, the number of new infections has remained low throughout the spring. The state’s two-week average for newly confirmed cases on Friday was 51.4 per day — roughly comparable to the averages the state recorded in March.

Of Wyoming’s 720 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, 24 have occurred since March.

Follow managing editor Brandon Foster on Twitter @BFoster91

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Managing editor

Brandon Foster is the Star-Tribune's managing editor. He joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 as the University of Wyoming sports reporter after graduating from the University of Missouri and covering Mizzou athletics for two years.

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