By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
More than a year after being implemented, one of the last two remaining Wyoming health orders was lifted Friday.
The statewide public health order that limited attendance at indoor events that might draw more than 500 people to 50% of the venue’s capacity. Additionally, the mask mandate on college campuses statewide has been lifted.
Mask use and physical distancing in K-12 schools will remain in place through May 31, but will likely end following that date.
“We are making these changes now because we are confident in the effectiveness of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines. We are seeing excellent results among those who have been vaccinated. The vaccines are doing their job very well,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.
Around 28% of Wyoming residents are fully vaccinated, according to Wyoming Department of Health data. A recent report showed that Wyoming had one of the highest concentrations of coronavirus skeptics in the nation.
“There is no question we would like to see a much higher coverage percentage,” Harrist said. “But adults, including college students, across our state have had ample opportunity to choose vaccination by this point. The change to the order affecting schools and colleges will reflect recently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
The Pfizer vaccine was recently made available to children between the ages of 12 to 15, in addition to anyone over 16. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for adults 18 and over.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has not disappeared completely. We continue to see confirmed cases across the state. The vast majority of recent, new cases have involved people who were not yet fully vaccinated,” Harrist said.
She encouraged anyone who was eligible to get the vaccine to do so as soon as possible and reminded residents that the vaccines are free, safe and effective.
Harrist also expected specific protocols regarding the safe operation of K-12 schools during the fall to be determined sometime this summer.
The department is encouraging people who aren’t vaccinated to continue wearing masks indoors when physical distancing can’t be maintained.
“There are specific places where precautions such as mask use are still recommended for everyone, such as healthcare settings including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters,” Harrist said. “Private businesses and organizations may also still choose to require masks and other precautions. We ask individuals to be respectful of requirements in those settings.”