By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
No city or town in Wyoming will have a mask mandate in effect beginning in the new year after Jackson will let its requirement expire at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31.
Jackson’s mask order went into effect in late August, after the Delta variant of the coronavirus became the dominant strain in Wyoming. The next week, the Teton County Board of Commissioners extended the mandate until Dec. 31.
“Even though Teton County still remains in the Red/high risk level there are multiple developments that have occurred that allow us to feel more comfortable with the mask order expiring,” Teton County health officer Dr. Travis Riddell said. “These include authorization of booster (vaccination) doses for individuals 16 and up, enough time for 5 to 11 years old to receive the authorized COVID-19 vaccine and become fully vaccinated, reduction in the number of hospitalizations among Teton County residents, authorization of the first pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 for individuals with weakened immune systems, and the likely upcoming authorization of additional antiviral medications to treat mild and moderate cases of COVID-19.”
As of Tuesday, Teton County had 57 active cases. When county and Jackson town officials implemented the mask mandate, it had 166.
St. John’s Hospital in Jackson had two COVID patients hospitalized as of Tuesday.
Teton County also has the highest vaccination rate in Wyoming by far, with more than 85% of its population having been vaccinated against the virus.
Teton was the first of Wyoming’s 23 counties to implement a mask order once 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 and putting it back in effect in late August.
While some school districts around the state have adopted ask mandates for students, no counties have put another order in place since the statewide order expired.
In August, the Carbon County Republican Party called the Teton County’s second 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!” party officials said at the time.
The first case of the omicron variant in Wyoming was found last week in Albany County.