CARBON COUNTY -- The Carbon County Board of Commissioners was surprised when the county health officer informed them he submitted a request for a mandatory mask order on Tuesday.

According to Bigfoot99, commissioners felt “blindsided” by county health officer Dr. Marvin Couch when he told them about the order for the first time during their second meeting of the month on Tuesday, announcing he was seeking a mandate which would take effect immediately.

“This order is necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in our county, and hopefully save lives,'” Couch told the board.

The order then was passed just a few hours later that day, signed into effect by state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist. The order will remain in effect until at least Dec. 4 or until Couch asks for a revision or to revoke the order.

Couch requested a variance sometime last week that would require all adults to wear face coverings in certain public places. Those with certain medical conditions are exempt from this order.

Children aren’t required to wear masks, although it is encouraged for those 3 and older.

Commissioner Sue Jones said during the meeting that the board was powerless to rescind the order, noting that only Couch had the power to do so.

Couch said he requested the order because of the upcoming holiday season, but added that the mandate could be renewed or rescinded, depending on how many people are testing positive and what the ICU and hospital bed capacities are in the next few weeks.

Commissioner John Espy asked why the county governing officials didn’t receive the order prior to it being submitted. He wanted to allow for more time for county residents to prepare for the order.

The county health officer denied the request.

“Changing the order as is approved is not going to be an option,” he told the board.

The goal, according to Bigfoot 99, isn’t to issue citations to residents who don’t follow the order, but use it as an educational opportunity.

This mandate comes on the heels of other mask orders going in effect around the state, including in Laramie, Sweetwater, Teton and Sublette counties.

Natrona County health officer Mark Dowell posted a plea for more mask orders to be enacted across the state over the weekend, as he continued to see more and more coronavirus patients filling up facilities in Casper.

The county currently has 175 active cases as of Wednesday evening and five of the state’s 155 coronavirus-related deaths.

Ellen Fike is a freelance writer living in Cheyenne. She can be reached at elfylucille@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.

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