With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in Park County and around the state, all county public health officers and the Wyoming Hospital Association are petitioning Gov. Mark Gordon to enact a mask mandate.
Park County is one of eight counties with a request for a county mask mandate pending at the state level.
Park County Public Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin reported 138 active cases of COVID-19 in the county on Saturday afternoon, including 80 active cases in Cody residents.
Currently 12.9% of county residents who take a test are coming back positive. The county had averaged 3.4%.
Rates of new cases are levelling off, however, with the Wyoming Department of Health reporting Monday morning just two new cases in the county in the last 24 hours. Sewage testing has also stabilized, albeit at a much higher level than early on in the pandemic, with 6.8% of people using city sewage shedding the virus.
Billin said in his update the drop in new cases is due to people again taking more precautions due to the recent sharp rise in cases.
“Whenever things start to get better, the citizens of Wyoming let their guard down and transmission increases,” he said. “Surprised, Wyoming gets better about wearing masks and social distancing and (the rate of transmission) decreases. This leads to a repeating cycle. We need to learn from our mistakes and sustain the effort.”
In Park County, the 19-29 age group has been responsible for the highest plurality of total cases since the pandemic began.
“We feel that a statewide mandate sends a more powerful and effective message in a more timely manner,” the letter from the public health officers reads in part. “With the recent dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations, expedited implementation is paramount. In addition, if we can slow the spread of COVID-19 we can hopefully also prevent another lockdown and speed our economic recovery.”
On Friday, Gov. Mark Gordon said they would take the next week to look at the data provided from a recent White House study on the state to determine a range of next steps. He said everything is on the table in regards to how to slow the spread.
“Since this pandemic started, we’ve been relying on personal responsibility – how’s that working out?” he said. “If I can’t rely on you, we’re going to have to do something else. We’re going to use the data the White House has provided to make the next steps.”
He chastised state residents for being too lax.
“We are being knuckleheads about this,” he said.
Billin also recently announced Park was one of 10 counties in the state identified by the White House Task Force as needing increased caution and continued face masks due to high numbers.
In the county 641 total cases have recovered and three residents have died after contracting the virus.
Cody Regional Health reported to WDH having three adults in ICU beds as of Thursday and four of 12 ventilators being used, with a total of five patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
Powell Valley Healthcare had three patients Thursday, one on a ventilator.
The county’s recent rise has been mirrored by much of the state, which had 8,767 active cases of the virus Thursday.