The Lincoln County Republican Party says the county's health officer had no authority to issue a face mask order and is demanding that the order be withdrawn.

In a Thursday news release, the party also said that if the order is not withdrawn, the county commission should "nullify this unconstitutional order at their earliest opportunity."

The statement was posted on the party's Facebook page.

The news release includes the following comments about County Health Officer Dr. Christopher Krell and the face mask mandate:

"In a clearly orchestrated effort by appointed health officials, unaccountable to the voters, Dr. Krell’s mandate was simultaneously replicated around the state yesterday. This was, obviously, a fast endrun around our elected officials from our county commissioners to our mayors and Town Councils. Input from the public was never solicited.

It appears from the letter written by our elected Lincoln County Commissioners in response to the order that Dr. Krell did not even seek their counsel. This is unacceptable and outrageous in a Constitutional Representative Republic."

The statement by the Lincoln County GOP is the latest volley in what has become a statewide debate over the legality of face mask mandates issued by county health officers to battle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some officials around the state, including Sweetwater County Sheriff John Grossnickle and Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove, have said that they will not enforce the mandates in their counties. But Rock Springs Police Chief Dwayne Pacheco on Thursday said his agency takes the face mask mandate in Sweetwater County ''very seriously."

So far this is no statewide facemask mandate in effect, but several Wyoming Counties, including Laramie, Natrona, Sweetwater, Lincoln, and Teton counties have enacted local mandates to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 cases have been surging in Wyoming recently, with another 21 fatalities attributed to the disease on Thursday. Supporters say the mandates are needed to stem the infection rate, arguing that people consistently wearing masks would reduce the rate by 70 percent or more.

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