Laramie County mask mandate will apply in Capitol, other state buildings

By: 
Tom Coulter with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, from the Wyoming News Exchange

Laramie County mask mandate will apply in Capitol, other state buildings

 

By Tom Coulter

Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Via Wyoming News Exchange

 

CHEYENNE  – The mask mandate approved last week for Laramie County will also apply to visitors to buildings such as the Wyoming State Capitol, following a meeting of the five statewide elected leaders Monday afternoon.

The county-level mask mandate, which went into effect Monday, requires masks be worn when inside a retail or commercial business, when obtaining health care services and when using public transit. Employees at those places would also be required to wear face coverings when interacting with the public.

Though only county and municipal buildings were included in the original order, Gov. Mark Gordon and the other members of the State Building Commission adopted a policy to make the requirement also apply in state buildings.

“Part of our intent here was to try to respect local control as much as we could,” Gordon said.

While masks will now be required of members of the public, the governor also signed an emergency policy last week requiring state employees in Laramie and Teton counties to adhere to mask requirements in their buildings. In a letter sent to those workers, Gordon said some state employees have already been hospitalized, noting active cases in Wyoming have reached all-time highs over the past week.

“This policy is intended to support a safe working environment among our employees and members of the public, particularly because we know that those without symptoms may be infected and are capable of spreading this virus,” Gordon wrote.

The policy adopted Monday by the Building Commission would apply in any county that adopts a mask mandate, and it would last until the expiration of the county-level order.

“(Though this policy), we're just saying we're not different, (and) we don't deserve exclusion from the local decision,” State Auditor Kristi Racines said during Monday's virtual meeting.

In Laramie County, the mask mandate is tentatively set to expire Nov. 30, though the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department could still modify the order with approval from the state.

The decision to implement a mask mandate in Laramie County came as COVID-19 case numbers have continued to rise in the area. On Monday, Laramie County reported more than 800 active cases of COVID-19 for the first time, and hospitalizations related to the novel coronavirus at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center were up to 34 – a record high and more than double what it was two weeks ago. 

The status of a mask mandate in Laramie County also could have an effect on the Wyoming Legislature, which is scheduled to convene early next year at the Capitol. Last month, legislative leaders adopted a tentative plan that would require masks be worn at the Capitol by staff, but not by lawmakers and members of the public.

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