By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Teton County’s mask mandate has been extended until the end of the year by Teton County commissioners.
The Teton County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to extend the mandate until Dec. 31.
The action follows a decision by Jackson’s Town Council earlier this week to extend the mandate until Dec. 31 as well.
The order requires people to wear masks inside any business or government facility open to the public, health care facilities or while riding on public transportation. This mandate will also extend to K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions, requiring all students, teachers, staff and visitors to wear masks.
There are exceptions to the order, including if a person has a medical condition that would affect their breathing by wearing a mask.
The order doesn’t mandate mask usage in any outdoor situations.
As of Wednesday, Teton County had 166 active COVID cases.
This is the first of Wyoming’s 23 counties to implement a new mask order since the statewide mask mandate expired in mid-March. Teton County kept its mask order in place longer than any other county in the state, letting it expire in early May.
Other counties have discussed, or implemented, school district mask mandates, but no mandates have been adopted for other cities or counties.
Late last week, the Carbon County Republican Party called the county’s mandate “unconstitutional.”
“Will you comply with another unconstitutional mask mandate or illegal shutdown of select ‘unessential work-a-day’ private businesses? Let us know where you stand Wyoming, and be prepared to STAND UP!” the party wrote on Facebook.
Gov. Mark Gordon has steadfastly refused to implement a second statewide mandate for the use of facemasks and he told a Jackson audience Tuesday he feels it is better to let local governments, rather than his administration, make decisions regarding how their communities should handle the the pandemic.
“We don’t believe that mandates from on high work,” he said. “We do think local control, local government is where the nexus lies. Those are locally-elected people, they’re your communities. They can appreciate the circumstances at a local level in a way that we find from on top can’t happen.”
Gordon said that while he respected Wyoming residents’ freedom to choose, he also said residents know what they need to do to slow the spread of the virus — wash their hands, wear facemasks and practice social distancing.
“In this environment, I think it is extremely important that we recognize we are a community and what we do together can be very successful in defeating the virus,” he said.