Mask up Wyoming

Dear Governor Gordon,

During our County Health Officer calls on Thursday, Oct. 22 and 29, 2020, all County Health Officers were united in recommending a statewide mask ordinance with the hope of preventing more death and disease from COVID-19 among our Wyoming citizens. The Wyoming Medical Society added its unified voice during its Quarterly Board of Trustees meeting.

We understand that there is a mechanism for each county to individually mandate a mask ordinance. However, this would take considerably more time and would likely be less consistently achieved. We feel that a statewide mandate sends a more powerful and effective message in a more timely manner. With the recent dramatic increase in cases and hospitalizations, expedited implementation is paramount. In addition, if we can slow the spread of COVID-19 we can hopefully also prevent another lockdown and speed our economic recovery.

As you know, earlier this month the White House Task Force’s most recent report recommended increased caution and continued face masks for 10 Wyoming counties. Red zone counties reported were Albany, Big Horn, Campbell, Converse, Goshen, Park and Sublette counties. Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday in an interview to CNN, "Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Our numbers have continued to increase as many have disregarded our recommendations. Education and encouragement alone have not achieved desired outcomes and our health care resources are stressed and deaths in nursing homes have increased.

Therefore, we ask you to consider the following:

WHEREAS, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, transmitted through person-to-person contact or by contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. Persons infected with COVID-19 may become symptomatic two to fourteen days after exposure; and

WHEREAS, respiratory droplets from infected individuals are a major mode of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. This understanding is the basis of the recommendations for physical distancing, and of the PPE guidance for healthcare workers. Droplets do not only come from coughing or sneezing: in a-/pre-symptomatic individuals, droplets are generated via talking and breathing; and

WHEREAS, Face Coverings reduce droplet dispersal and cloth-based coverings reduce emission of particles by variable amounts; and

WHEREAS, evidence indicates that wearing Face Coverings reduces the transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected droplets; and

WHEREAS, in the most comprehensive, systematic review and meta-analysis of Face Coverings published to date, Chu et al. found that face masks could reduce risk of transmission of COVID19 by an expected 85%; and

WHEREAS, guidelines published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on April 3, 2020, recommend that all people wear cloth Face Coverings in public settings where other physical distancing measures may be difficult to maintain. CDC also advises the use of simple cloth Face Coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others; and

WHEREAS, the White House Task Force has placed Wyoming in the top 10 states for COVID cases and recommended face masks in our counties;

FURTHERMORE, since COVID-19 positive cases are increasing significantly and the number of deaths this week have spiked;

THEREFORE, we the undersigned duly appointed health officers of each Wyoming county appeal to you to strongly consider adopting an ordinance requiring facemasks similar to the ordinances that Teton and Laramie counties have passed and are now being considered elsewhere in the state for the protection of the public good and health of its citizens.

Respectfully,

Wyoming Medical Society

David B. Wheeler, MD, Ph.D., FAAN, FAES, FAHA

Wyoming county health officers

Dr. Jean Allais, Dr. David Fairbanks, Dr. Kirtikumar Patel, Dr. Marvin Wayne Couch II, Dr. James Larson, Dr. Marion Smith, Dr. Vernon Miller, Dr. Mark Schueler, Dr. Stan Hartman, Dr. G. Christopher Krell, Dr. Mark Dowell, Dr. Aaron Billin, Dr. Steve Peasley, Dr. Ian Hunter, Dr. Brendon Fitzsimmons, Dr. Jean Stachon, Dr. Travis Riddle, Dr. Michael Adams, Dr. Ed Zimmerman, and Dr. Michael Jording

To see the full original letter with its included footnotes and citations, see rawlinstimes.com

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