CASPER — State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist is recommending vaccinated residents in areas with moderate to high COVID-19 transmission wear face masks in indoor public settings, she told the Star-Tribune on Thursday.

Just eight Wyoming counties are seeing low enough transmission for that recommendation not to apply, according to state data. That list includes Crook, Hot Springs, Johnson, Natrona, Niobrara, Sheridan, Washakie and Weston counties.

That leaves 15 other counties, including four of the five largest in the state: Laramie, Campbell, Sweetwater and Albany.

The recommendation comes two days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued similar guidance that vaccinated residents in areas with low vaccine uptake should again don masks indoors as a more contagious variant of the virus spreads.

That variant, called the Delta variant, is already considered dominant in Wyoming, Harrist said.

It’s considered between 50-60% more contagious than its predecessor the Alpha variant, which was already about 50% more contagious than the original virus strain. It is also believed to be better at thwarting vaccines, though Harrist emphasized vaccinated individuals who do contract the Delta variant are far less likely to experience severe illness.

Wyoming is among the least-vaccinated states in the country, raking fourth-lowest both for those who’ve received one shot and those who are fully inoculated. A litany of national surveys and data analyses have also identified Wyoming as having the communities most reluctant to accept a shot.

Vaccines have been available to the general public since late March, yet fewer than 33% of residents are fully vaccinated.

What the recommendations mean for local businesses remains to be seen. Natrona County is still recording low virus transmission levels based on state metrics. Still, Jereca Lutz, business development manager for the Casper Area Chamber of Commerce, said businesses have been reacting to the news mostly with uncertainty.

“Everybody’s just kind of watching and waiting right now,” she said, adding that most of the business owners she speaks with are urging employees to get vaccinated and “doing whatever they need to do to stay open.”

(2) comments

#1 RB Shooter

From the Cowboy State Daily. It is regarding Wyoming State Health director recommending wearing masks by all individuals indoors in certain counties. She said;

"...Harrist emphasized vaccinated individuals who do contract the Delta variant are far less likely to experience severe illness."

So, it's acceptable for those who are vaccinated to get the virus because vaccinated folks far less likely to get a severe illness. But, for those under 70 in good health, where catching the virus simply is either; asymptomatic or you have the short term reaction of a cold or mild case of the flu, it is not acceptable! That seems very ironic and certainly not honest.

I think the question that needs to be asked and published, "What % of those over 70 and those individuals having underlying medical conditions where catching the virus posses a huge threat have been vaccinated? For the rest of us, whether naturally acquired immunity or a vaccination is our personal option and nobody else's.


If everyone would use some common sense and understand that the reason for masks and vaccinations is not to trample on your rights but to stop the virus from continuing to spread and mutate into something that could be completely uncontrollable we could put this behind us. It does not matter if you get a serious case and die or a mild case and recover.

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