Patti McMillan (from left), Carol Armstrong, Kerri Bender and Marcus Bender wave at honking cars in front of the courthouse on Friday morning. The group wanted to show respect for those who passed away on 9/11 and in Afghanistan, and show opposition for President Biden’s new vaccine mandate.

With President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate announced last week, at least a few local health care facilities will likely be strained even further than they have been the past 18 months. Biden said he will request the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to draft an emergency rule requiring all health care employees to be vaccinated without the previous alternative of weekly COVID-19 testing.

Businesses with 100 employees or more will now be required to have all employees be vaccinated, although they will still be given the option to opt out with weekly testing.

The administration said the rule would be finalized in a matter of weeks but no date has been announced for when people would be required to get their vaccines.

Five protestors gathered near City Park on Friday to show their disapproval for Biden’s mandate. Organizer Carol Armstrong, while wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, said they received a positive response from the public with free gifts given to them and “so many tooting horns and waving.”

“We’re very concerned with the way this country is going,” she said. “He has no right to mandate what we put in our body.

“People are being forced to take the vaccine against their wishes or lose their job – that is so un-American.”

Typically, vaccination requirements for health care workers vary based on the facility and state. Wyoming has no state mandated requirements for health care workers.

“The notion that the President of the United States can simply issue an edict like this raises real constitutional concerns,” said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney during a media call on Friday.

Cody Regional Health is the largest employer in the county affected by the new order. CEO Doug McMillan said staff would await a final signed order from Biden and then adhere to it.

“We are worried about the staffing issues because of that,” he said. “We’ve talked to other hospitals who said they will lose staff and yes, we’re concerned as well. There’s an existing shortage of staff, and this mandate is going to exacerbate that.”

However, McMillan said having more people in the area vaccinated is the best way to get past the COVID surge, along with testing and treatments.

Aside from Cody Regional Health, one of the few private Cody businesses with more than 100 employees is the Y-Tex Corporation, which has around 119 employees right now and sometimes up to 130-135.

A representative from the company said they will make plans when more information is available on the mandate.

If OSHA were to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction, it would take 129 years to complete the task, according to a 2011 report from AFL-CIO.

Park County Commissioner Dossie Overfield said it is unclear whether the mandate will affect the county at this time, but it may as it comes from OSHA.

"I don't like mandates that take away citizens' rights to make their own decisions on how to take care of themselves," she said. "Helping citizens get good factual information to help make the decisions is a better solution in my view."

On Thursday, Gov. Mark Gordon issued a statement condemning Biden’s order.

“The Biden Administration’s announcement to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for private businesses is an egregious example of big government overreach,” he said, adding he has asked Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill to be prepared to take all actions to oppose the administration’s order.

The Republican National Committee also said Thursday that it plans to sue the Biden administration over the order it described as “unconstitutional.”

Biden’s mandate could affect as many 100 million people in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control only recommends the annual flu vaccine for health care workers, but inoculations for hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, pneumococcal, and varicella are commonly required at facilities around the nation.

As of Friday, Powell Valley Healthcare’s Care Center, a facility for long term patients, only had a 15% full vaccination among its employees. The 480-employee organization as a whole only had a 35% full vaccination rate.

In response to Biden’s announcement, Jim Cannon, marketing and community relations director for PVHC, said 17 employees got their first vaccine. If this staff gets their second, Cannon said it will bump up the full vaccination rate to about 39%.

“We’re concerned about closing and staff shortages because not everyone wants to get the vaccine,” Cannon said.

But Cannon said the hospital is not asking its employees to get the vaccine, consistent with its policy on the flu vaccine he said has been in place for at least the 25 years he has been employed there. Although PVHC has offered rewards to employees for getting the flu vaccine, they have not done any for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Our administration doesn’t want to mandate vaccines, we’d like to let our people make their own decisions,” he said.

He said recruiting employees is difficult for the facility under normal circumstances and the pandemic has only exacerbated those challenges.

“Everyone’s taxed,” Cannon said.

As of midday Friday, there were 163 active cases of COVID-19 in Park County. That day CRH had five COVID-19 patients and two open intensive care unit beds. PVHC had six patients and no open beds.

“We’re just looking for the turning point in the storm,” Cannon said.

Protestor Patty McMillan (no relation to Doug McMillan) said she doesn’t think any health care worker should be required to get the vaccine and there should be more consideration for people who have already had the virus and developed a natural immunity.

The CDC says people can generally expect three months of protection from natural antibodies after contracting the virus.

Patti McMillan said there is much distrust regarding what is and what is not a fact when it comes to the coronavirus because of inconsistent information surfacing regarding the novel disease.

“You can’t really trust what’s coming out,” McMillan said.

(Zac Taylor contributed to this report)

(19) comments

Jay Blough

I'm new to this, so I wasn't trying to hide behind a user name. This is Jay Blough.

Jay Blough

My body my choice. Right?

kelly croft

If you don't take a stand for freedom of choice now, they will come for something you do care about next. I ask you to look at Israel and Ice Land. Do your own research, think critically, and remember that all humans are fallible, even scientists and especially the government. There is a reason we have the constitution and we all will suffer if we don't support each others freedom of choice.

Jorge Avila

Food for thought.... the government is mandating this to include federal employees. However, members of senate and the house are exempt? Are the “masters” too good to take the vaccine they so desperately want us to get. Why are they just mandating it for certain people but not others?

Justin Smith

Cowards that are afraid to get a shot at the doctor are causing the continuation of this pandemic in this country.

kelly croft

Why are you always so hateful on this site? I feel sorry for you sir.

Mitch Asay

Wake up people none can force you to wear a mask or get a vaccine, Mr Winslow should know that (maybe) he sounds way far left to know,

Dewey Vanderhoff

The usual suspoects are trying to ginn up a rally against Vaccination and Facemask mandates. This latest in a long line of rightwing extremist Blusterfests is scheduled to be held at the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Park on Saturday September 18.

Dunno about y'all, but I find THAT choice of a venue where military veterans MIA and KIA are respectfully honored to be totally inappropriate for a bunch of blowhards to gather . The irony comes when you realize they will be protesting devices and policies that actually save lives. But that is lost on them.

Best they move this away from a hallowed patriotism park down to the Bandshell where their white noise will be amplified. Allowing the war memorial Park to be the venue for a purely political protest is more than just disrespectful...

Scott Conger

Per the CDC: "Active immunity results when exposure to a disease organism triggers the immune system to produce antibodies to that disease. Exposure to the disease organism can occur through infection with the actual disease (resulting in natural immunity), or introduction of a killed or weakened form of the disease organism through vaccination (vaccine-induced immunity). Either way, if an immune person comes into contact with that disease in the future, their immune system will recognize it and immediately produce the antibodies needed to fight it. Active immunity is long-lasting, and sometimes life-long." Requiring a recovered individual to take a vaccine, when already immune, is certainly not following the science and in fact throws out decades of established truth (and apparently becomes a new "false fact"). Claims that Covid Immunity from infection has unknown or likely short (as low as 3 months has been reported), is Fear Porn on the part of the adherents and Media Mouthpieces, and most definitely is anti-science. The Covid vaccine may be great, and has certainly proven its worth so far (third shot...fourth shot??), but the need for universal mandatory vaccination is bunk. As far as these scofflaws invading the sanctity of the Memorial Park, Dewey, based on history, I'm sure you'll be able to interrupt or otherwise disrupt and infringe on any moment(s) of solemnity that may occur.

Tom Conners

So what's the big deal about a vaccine that may save YOUR LIFE and someone else's LIFE? Quit acting like a bunch of kids and just get the shot.

Mike Johnson

The 4th Amendment in the Bill of Rights written in the US Constitution : "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

"Secure in their persons... SHALL NOT be violated."

The federal government was created by a contract written and ratified by the states and the people. We call this contract the US Constitution. It spells out the exact duties and authorities delegated to the federal government and restricts them to THESE AUTHORITIES ONLY. Forced injection is not one of those delegated authorities.

The people, who had recently thrown off the tyrannical British King, feared an overreaching national government. So they insisted that the contract that defined and restricted this federal government include a list of God-given rights that this federal government could never violate. We call these 10 amendments the Bill of Rights.

Biden's order is outside the list of authorities we delegated to the federal government. It violates the 4th, 9th & 10th amendments of the Bill of Rights. It is therefore unlawful, null & void and of no legal consequence. Do not comply.

If your employer mandates the injections, THEY are in violation of the Bill of Rights, making them the unlawful tyrant. If you do not want the experimental injections, do not quit. Make them fire you. This helps you gain unemployment benefits, documents the company's unlawful behavior, allows you to join class-action lawsuits and keeps the full liability of the unlawful action upon the company and its leaders who violated your rights.

If an enforcement agent of the government tries to enforce an unlawful order, THEY become the tyrant. They may claim they were "just following orders" but they are personally guilty and will be judged by the people and their creator. Enforcers should remember that it is far better to refuse unlawful orders and lose their job than to obey and lose their soul.

Our non-compliance of Biden's unlawful order does not require the approval of a lawyer, court or judge. The states and the people ourselves retain all rights and privileges not spelled out in this constitutional contract (9th & 10th Amendments in the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution).

Today, the federal government has taken hundreds of authorities and duties it was never granted. These too, are all unlawful, null and void.

You'll find similar violations by state leaders when you read the Wyoming Constitution.

In America, we self-govern. Law-abiding people are superior to government in all areas not delegated to government. But only if we call them out, do not comply and hold them to account.

Viv McCord

Thanks again Mike. Regardless of the medical aspects of forced vaccines, the real issue is violation of our constitutional and human rights. I understand as a former employer that these mandates are crafted to shift the liability onto the employer, and would tell all employers to beware forcing anyone to get a medical procedure they do not want in order to stay employed, it will come back on you if they have injuries from doing so. The pharmaceutical companies have immunity from liability, employers do not.

Dewey Vanderhoff

The sheer tonnage of constitutional logorrhea you can turn out before 7 AM is mind boggling...

Wendell Luety

People need the WWII Nureberg Code Etablished after 1947. It states it is violation of federal law to mandate force anyone to get COVID shot. If you have been forced or threatened here's a phone number that can help. (281) 698-8698

Matt Winslow

Is it correct that Y-Tex is the only business with 100+ employees? The Forward Cody website lists Cody's largest employers as: Cody Regional Health (700+); Cody School District (382); Walmart (240); Blair Hotels (240); Buffalo Bill Center of the West (134); and Y-Tex (125).

Barbara Hull

The article says that Y-Tex is one of the few private business with more than 100 employees. The only other private business on your list is Blair Hotels, possibly.

Matt Winslow

The Enterprise updated the article after I made my comment, and changed the language that I had referenced. In any event, both Walmart and Blair Hotels are private businesses, and the BBCOW is a 501(c)(3) charity, and thus operates as a private employer.

Matt Winslow

Mr. Asay, I don’t know you. If we have ever met, I have forgotten it. If I should remember, then I apologize for that. To me, you are a name next to a comment. If I give it thought, it is to the comment, not the person. If I reply, it is to the comment, not the person. I would appreciate the same courtesy.

To respond to your question, it is not the burden of those espousing the overwhelming consensus of the medical profession, to produce evidence that masks work; it is for those challenging that consensus to present valid, not-retracted, peer reviewed, replicable evidence that the consensus is wrong. That is how science works.

Additionally, please note that incessant repetition of a legal principles does not make it the law. Something is illegal or unconstitutional when the courts say it is. Until then, it is a matter for debate. Any lawyer knows that.

So please sir, stand down. Forget about me in the time it takes to click “Post comment.” I promise I will give you the same regard.

Mitch Asay

Do your research Matt, show us the science that mask work, I think we need to pull our kids out of school until the left can figure out life, without kids no money maybe they would l stop, the propaganda and lies,

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.