Laramie County Health Officials are waiting for approval from the state Attorney General's Office and state Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist to move ahead with plans for a county face mask mandate to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's according to a review of the mandate held on Tuesday afternoon by the Laramie County Board of Health. Dr. Stan Hartman, Laramie County Health Officer, told the board that since the Laramie County order is very similar to one already approved by state officials for Teton County, he doesn't expect any issue with getting final approval for the local mandate as well.

He said he was hopeful of getting approval from the Attorney General "possibly by the end of business today," and getting final state approval within the next few days. Hartman says he also plans to meet with local elected officials and business leaders in the coming days.

As Hartman explained the order on Tuesday, it would mostly apply to businesses, public areas such as museums, and transportation venues such as taxis. it would not apply to churches or religious services or private outdoor events.

It would not pre-empt the COVID-19 restrictions that are already in place in public schools, and children under the age of two as well as people with a medical reason not to wear the mask would also be exempt.

Dr. Hartman told the board that enforcement of the order presents a "bit of a challenge" since the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department does not have personnel available to enforce the order, and he said, local law enforcement is already busy enforcing existing laws.

He said that while the order will be a legal order which people will be expected to follow, it will essentially be enforced ''on the honor system," at least for now. In regard to when the order might be revoked. Hartman said officials will look at such metrics as lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the number of hospital beds being occupied by those infected by the virus.

When Hartman was asked whether a mandate might be issued requiring people to get a COVID-19 shot once a vaccine is developed, He responded "I don't see that answer would be no."

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