CHEYENNE – Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove made clear during an interview Saturday with KGAB radio host Doug Randall that her office would not be enforcing the county’s mask mandate, or prosecuting any cases related to it.
Randall said he brought Manlove onto the radio show, “Weekend in Wyoming,” primarily to talk about state budget cuts to the DA’s office, but said he also wanted to ask about enforcement of the mask mandate. During her appearance on the show, Manlove tied the two issues together.
“Frankly, I’m not enforcing a mask mandate. I don’t even have sufficient resources to enforce crime, so there may be an official out there who knows what the consequence will be for somebody who doesn’t wear a mask, but it ain’t this one,” Manlove said.
Later in the show, in response to a listener question from Facebook, Manlove said she didn’t know “how you can explain the constitutionality” of enforcing a mask mandate.
“I just am flabbergasted that there are people who called my office yesterday and the day before asking if my office would be prosecuting people for not wearing masks, and the very simple answer is no,” Manlove said. “I think that each person has to make a decision about whether or not they’re going to wear a mask.”
Manlove continued by saying that she, as a state employee, had been and would continue to wear a mask in her courthouse office, in courtrooms and other locations when in her official capacity.
Manlove did not return a call from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle seeking additional comment Tuesday.
Laramie County Health Officer Dr. Stan Hartman said health officials are not currently asking any agency to enforce the order, and they hope enforcement will not be necessary.
The order does include a provision that residents who fail to comply with the mandate could be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to a year behind bars. Hartman said that, depending on how things go, health officials may ask for enforcement in the future.
But the goal right now, he said, is to educate the public and make sure residents know what should be done to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“I want to emphasize that our goal is to make sure that everybody knows what the right thing to do is and get them to do it so that we can keep people out of the hospital and keep businesses open,” Hartman said.
As for constitutionality, he said the order had been reviewed “extensively” by Laramie County Attorney Mark Voss’s office, as well as Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill’s office. He also pointed out that the mask order was issued under the state’s declaration of emergency, which went into effect in March.
“I can assure you that there are no constitutional issues,” Hartman said.