Gordon extends statewide mask mandate, eases gathering restrictions

CHEYENNE (WNE) — With Wyoming’s number of active COVID-19 cases well below the record highs of November 2020, Gov. Mark Gordon on Thursday announced a change to the state’s public health orders that will increase the permitted size of gatherings, along with an extension of the statewide mask mandate.

The main change to the orders, which take effect Jan. 26, will allow indoor gatherings that include social distancing and face covering to have up to 25% of capacity, or a maximum of 250 people.

Under previous orders, such gatherings were limited to a maximum of 100 people, or 25% of capacity.

“Wyoming is making progress and coming closer to safely returning to more normal lives, and the steps we have taken are helping us achieve this,” Gordon said in a statement.

“I am confident that as our vaccination rate increases, the data-driven approach we are taking and our improving circumstances will give us more opportunity to further relax our orders.”

Limitations on outdoor gatherings have also been eased under the new orders, allowing up to 50% of venue capacity, or a maximum of 500 people, as long as social distancing measures and mask use are followed. Previously, the maximum number of people allowed for outdoor gatherings was 250.

Meanwhile, the statewide mask mandate, which Gordon first announced in early December, has been extended until Feb. 14, with counties having the ability to opt out of the requirements if local COVID-19 conditions move to safer levels in line with White House metrics.


Longtime legislator Coe dies at 74

CODY (WNE) — Henry 'Hank' H. R. Coe, 74, a longtime Wyoming senator with deep roots in Park County, died Thursday afternoon after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

His ex-wife Marty Coe confirmed he passed away at home with his children around him.

Although he was not diagnosed with cancer until November, the disease came on quickly for Coe.

"It's been tough, pretty tough," Marty Coe said.

Coe was first elected to the Wyoming Senate in 1988 and after 32 years of representing Cody and Park County, decided in March not to run again for his Senate seat.

He served as Senate Vice President, Majority Floor Leader and President. He had been Chair of the Senate Education Committee since 2003 until 2020. In addition to the Education Committee, Coe also chairs the Air Transportation Liaison Committee and is a member of the Senate Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee, Select Committee on Capital Financing & Investments, Energy Council and Council of State Governments-West Education.

Prior to serving as Senator, he was a Park County commissioner from 1979-1987, serving as chairman in 1983, 1986, and 1987. He was also involved with many local civic organizations including the Cody Volunteer Fire Department, Buffalo Bill Center of the West and Yellowstone Regional Airport.

After being diagnosed, Coe still made every Education Committee meeting but one.


CWD found in Green River Basin

JACKSON (WNE) — Wildlife managers have documented chronic wasting disease in a new swath of the Green River basin.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department sent out a news release Wednesday announcing a positive hit for the prion disease in a mule deer buck found dead in deer hunt area 138.

That 1,628-square-mile zone stretches from the headwaters of Boulder Creek at the Continental Divide, down to the sagebrush-steppe landscape that terminates at Fontenelle Reservoir.

The arrival of the incurable, lethal disease to the southwest slope of the Wind River Range is not a surprise. CWD was confirmed in deer hunt area 139, just to the north, in 2017, when the neurological disorder was discovered in a dead mule deer doe found at a property near the Pinedale Airport.

Over the crest of the Winds, it has also been documented in adjoining deer hunt area 171 since 2015.

Chronic wasting disease first showed up in deer on the far west side of the state, but recently it is also being detected in elk in the region. In December a hunter-killed cow elk shot north of Dubois tested positive in elk unit 67, a zone that overlays deer hunt area 128, where CWD was detected five years ago.

A hunter also killed a CWD-positive cow elk in Grand Teton National Park, unit 75, this past fall, an indication that the disease is likely now present in the herd gathered on the National Elk Refuge.

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