Wyoming’s governor on March 8 announced he’s removing his statewide mask requirement because of improving COVID-19-related metrics.
Wyoming, like most states in the country, has seen a declining number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. At the same time, more residents are getting COVID-19 vaccines.
“I thank the people of Wyoming for their commitment to keeping one another safe throughout this pandemic,” Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement. “It is through their efforts that we have kept our schools and businesses operating and our economy moving forward. I ask all Wyoming citizens to continue to take personal responsibility for their actions and stay diligent as we look ahead to the warmer months and to the safe resumption of our traditional spring and summer activities.”
According to Wyoming health officials, the state had 46,397 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in addition to 8,367 probable cases.
The vast majority of those patients—more than 53,500—have recovered, while another 682 are reported to have died.
The number of cases seen per day has dropped precipitously, reaching a low of eight on March 4, the last day figures are available.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Most patients recover from the illness, which primarily affects the elderly and infirm.
Gordon for now is still requiring students and others in K–12 schools to wear masks.
“Wyoming is one of the few states in the country that kept students learning in the classroom for the entire school year. We made sacrifices, but the earlier orders saved lives. We persevered,” he said. “With this approach, we can have graduations, proms, and a great end to the school year by keeping schools open. Especially since our children will not have the chance to be vaccinated this spring.”
The Republican is also allowing bars, restaurants, and theaters to fully reopen, in part because of how many residents have received COVID-19 vaccinations. Gordon late last month relaxed protocols for other businesses.
Nearly 100,000 first doses of the vaccine have been administered, with 19 percent of the state’s residents having received at least one dose, while 59,695 have received a second dose.
Two of the three authorized vaccines require two doses. The most recently approved shot, from Johnson & Johnson, is a single dose.
Wyoming has received 6,000 of the Johnson & Johnson doses. It isn’t clear how many have been administered.
Officials say the vaccine is being distributed and administered so efficiently that they’ve turned to groups in phase 1c of the vaccine distribution plan. Those groups include college students living in dormitories, the homeless, and people with asthma.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on March 7 that he feels it’s time to end lockdowns and get children back in school around the country.
“As a doctor, I will tell you I am very optimistic about where we are with Operation Warp Speed. Three vaccines, that we’re vaccinating 2 million people a day, everybody vaccinated by May. This is dramatic. It is very, very impressive from a medical standpoint,” he said.
“Also, from a medical standpoint, we know these lockdowns have been terrible for people all around the country in terms of depression, suicide. We need the country open. We need kids back in school every day with a mask, without a mask. We know how to stay safe. We know what we need to do: get vaccinated. It’s time to get America fully opened again.”
He added that he would continue wearing a mask while out and about.
Gordon’s removal of restrictions follows other governors, including the governors of Utah, Mississippi, and Texas.
Others have opened the economy but kept mask mandates in place, including the governors of Arkansas and Alabama.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to President Joe Biden, has warned against easing restrictions too soon. He said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on March 7 that he’s worried there could be a spike in infections in the near future.
“Every day that goes by that we keep the lid on things will get better and better because we’re putting now at least 2 million vaccinations into the arms of individuals each day,” he said. “And as the days and weeks go by, you have more and more protection, not only of individuals but of the community. So we’re going in the right direction. We just need to hang in there a bit longer.”