County mask mandate future uncertain
December 3, 2020
WASHAKIE COUNTY – The mask mandate that is in effect for Washakie County to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 faces an uncertain future with the end of the mandate looming.
The mask mandate for Washakie County is currently set to end on Friday, Dec. 4. Calls attempting to reach state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist about whether or not the mandate will be extended were not returned before press deadline. Harrist is currently serving as acting Washakie County health officer after the removal of Dr. Ed Zimmerman from the position on Monday, Nov. 23.
Wyoming Department of Health spokesperson Kim Deti said Tuesday afternoon that Harrist was clarifying her role as interim county health officer with the Attorney General’s Office before responding to inquiries from the Northern Wyoming News.
The Washakie County Commissioners are currently seeking applications for the position of county health officer; the applicant must be a physician and licensed to practice medicine in the State of Wyoming. The commissioners are accepting applications until 5 p.m. on Dec. 14.
At their meeting Tuesday, the commissioners said they had no knowledge on whether or not the mandate would be extended.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 1, cases in Washakie County have increased by 111 from 269 to 380 cases, or 29.2% since last Monday, Nov. 23, this included a jump of 51 cases on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
In addition to the new cases in the area, one death was reported in Washakie County on Wednesday, three in Big Horn County over the past week, two in Park County and one in Hot Springs.
According to a press release from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH), the Washakie County resident was an elderly male who died in a local long-term care facility. It was unknown if he had health conditions that put patients at higher risk of serious illness.
The WDH said the Hot Springs death was an older adult man who had been hospitalized and had health conditions recognized as putting patients at higher risk of serious illness related to COVID-19.
The Big Horn County deaths were an older adult male who was hospitalized in another state; and an older adult male and older woman, both residents of a local long-term care facility. All three had health conditions recognized as putting patients at higher risk of serious illness related to COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 1, there are two patients hospitalized in Big Horn County, six were reported in Park County, three in Washakie County and none in Hot Springs County.
According to information provided by Washakie County School District (WCSD) No. 1 Business Manager Jack Stott, quarantines of students have reduced from last week with 108 total students currently in quarantine and nine total staff in quarantine as of Monday, Nov. 30.
At East Side Elementary there are currently 11 students on quarantine due to external exposure along with one positive staff member. South Side Elementary currently has 15 students out on quarantine due to external exposure and one due to in-school exposure, two staff members are positive and two are on quarantine due to external exposure. Thirteen students are on quarantine due to external exposure at West Side Elementary with three positive staff members.
At Worland Middle School, four students are positive, 24 are on quarantine due to external exposure and three on quarantine due to in-school exposure. No staff members tested positive or were on quarantine as of Monday. Eight students have tested positive at Worland High School, 23 were on quarantine due to external exposure, six were on quarantine due to in-school exposure and one staff member is on quarantine due to external exposure.
Overall six staff members and 12 students are positive as of Nov. 30.
WCSD No. 2 was set to return to Tier 1 learning on Monday, Nov. 30. Hot Springs County School District (HSCSD) No. 1 was set to return to in-person learning on Wednesday, Dec. 2.