Lift Mask Mandate, Says Wyoming County Commissioner
Teton County Wyoming, County Commissioner Greg Epstein was opposed to the mask mandate in the first place. Now he is pushing the country commission to finally lift it. “I think it’s time to have that discussion,” Epstein said.
“I think for us to get to the threshold, or the risk level that the county health department is requiring, is nearly impossible,” he added, questioning the Teton County Health Department’s metrics. “I also think that we’re never going to live in a COVID-free society.” (Jackson Hole News & Guide).
It was the spike of COVID-19 cases in late August, that caused county health officials to recommend a mask mandate.
But not all studies agree on the effectiveness of the public wearing masks.
Mask use was associated with slowed COVID-19 spread, but only during periods of low case growth. A new study suggests state mask mandates didn't help slow COVID-19 transmission. The pre-publication study found "qualitatively comparable courses of viral spread" among states with early, late, and no mask mandates. (Reason.com).
While folks in Teton county have been wearing masks far more so than other Wyoming counties, the number of COVID cases continued to rise.
COVID-19 levels fell sharply in early October but have recently started climbing again. After peaking at a seven-day average of 26 cases per day in September to 4.6 in early October, the daily average is now hovering above 10. (Jackson Hole News & Guide).
A COVID-19 update has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, though it’s included as a “discussion item” where public comment will not be taken. The commission doesn't typically take public comment on "discussion items."
But during the time of this "mandate", both the county and the city of Jackson Hole have had a hard time with mask enforcement.
According to Cowboy State Daily, The sheriff of Teton County, however, said there is no enforcement behind it and it was built to alleviate the high numbers of phone calls for and against the mask mandate that come into county dispatch.
In the video below you'll see Teton County Commissioners Greg Epstein and Mark Barron claim that the website was built without their knowledge on the county’s COVID site:
Let's turn back the clock to December of 2020: Jackson Hole city council members grew a little sick and tired of confronting people in their town who were not wearing masks. City transit drivers and store owners see maskless people all the time.
Those city council members held a meeting to find a way to get the local police to finally enforce their mask mandate.
The Jackson Police Chief said that there were only two circumstances that could potentially lead to citations. Usually, it is if someone is not wearing a mask in a store, is asked to put one on, refuses, then refuses to leave. They will get a mask ticket along with their trespassing ticket. But that scenario almost never happens. All the Jackson police can, and have been doing, is asking people to please put one on.
“A lot has been done, but I think it’s pretty clear that more needs to be done here,” Mayor Pete Muldoon said. “I do think it’s our responsibility to make those kinds of policy decisions. We are not getting the compliance that these public health orders deserve.” (Jackson Hole News & Guide).
Merely by saying that they will try to do better at enforcement the Jackson Hole Police Department is different from other departments in most of the state of Wyoming.
The state of Wyoming went from 12 counties with mask mandates to a state-wide mask mandate, yet all along the way county district attorneys and county and city police have refused to enforce the mandate, citing lack of time, recourses, and constitution questions.
In Campbell County, Wyoming County Commissioners held a public meeting to discuss the state mandate. "We are very concerned and we will not comply. We will not comply with having the government tell us in a free nation in a free world what we're going to do in our lives," said Campbell County Republican Party Chair Vicki Kissak, speaking as a private citizen.
Sweetwater and Freemont County Sheriffs are among many in law enforcement across the state who have also come out against enforcing a state-wide mandate. They had also spoken out against enforcing their local county mandates.
This causes me to wonder why we have been told that these "mask mandates" are being extended into next year. If there is no enforcement then where is the mandate? How can a mandate that does not really exist be extended? When I questioned various county and state officials about this they admitted that, in reality, there were no mask mandates in Wyoming, due to lack of enforcement.
Back to what is near the end of 2021 and only a few schools in Wyoming, and Teton County, claims to have mask mandates.