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By Karla Pomeroy

The News Editorial: Almost there


April 21, 2022

More than two years ago everything changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years ago we saw some businesses closed by the order of the governors, including here in Wyoming. We saw events cancelled or the number of spectators and participants limited.

Then came the masks and even for the first part of last year everywhere you went a mask was either required (school events) or recommended.

Wyoming got rid of the mask mandate earlier than most states. We didn’t have the huge lockdowns that other states put their citizens through. Businesses were not shuttered for too long and here most of the businesses bounced back and have recovered.

The main one I can think of that did not re-open is the Washakie Twin Cinemas, that is now currently for sale.

Everywhere across the country things have been getting back to normal after 2020, or normal for a pandemic. There continue to be new variations of COVID-19 and a new round of boosters has been recommended for those over 50.

But a big step in moving into that “new normal” we kept hearing about in 2020, and a step to learning to live with COVID came Monday from a federal court in Florida.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the mask mandate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for airlines and other mass transportation.

You would think the mandate would not impact us here in Washakie County but since they receive federal funding for their transportation services, both Ten Sleep and Worland senior centers had to enforce the mask mandate. Both directors indicated the mask mandate has hindered ridership. That all ended with Mizelle’s ruling.

According to the Associated Press, “The decision by U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, also said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures that left it fatally flawed. In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely across the country because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group of people who objected in the lawsuit.”

The mandate was set to expire Monday but was extended until May 3 until the ruling on Monday. The CDC had stated that the mandate needed extended so they could study the latest COVID-19 Omicron variation.

I agree with Mizelle. A study is no reason to put a mandate in place. If we are going to have a mask mandate every time a variation is studied or a disease is studied then the mandate likely will always be in place.

So with Mizelle’s ruling, I think we can say we are near putting the pandemic behind us and learning to live with it.

But here is perhaps the most important thing to take away from Monday, Mizelle’s decision does not prevent you from wearing a mask on a plane, a subway, a bus or a train, if you feel more comfortable. Masks and vaccinations are a choice for you.

In a country that was founded on and prides itself on freedoms, choice is a good thing.

Choice and freedom need to always be part of the norm.

On a side note. We will continue to post COVID numbers on A2 until we can go at least 2 weeks in a row without an active case. Most recently we made it one week.

Sadly this week, the Wyoming Department of Health announced an older adult Washakie County woman died in April and was listed as COVID-19 related death.

--Karla Pomeroy


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