It's unsure when COVID-19 cases will peak in Wyoming and the Casper Area, the Natrona County health officer said Wednesday.

"It's the greatest unknown," Dr. Mark Dowell said during a Wednesday news conference.

Dowell said the majority of the models he's looked at show coronavirus cases peaking at the end of April into the earliest parts of May.

But Casper is in a rural area. It's hard to tell what the virus will do in areas like Natrona County or Wyoming. Getting to the peak may be more prolonged, or it may not occur.

"One thing that's very clear — this virus is not going to just magically disappear in the next few weeks. It's going to hang around at a low level for a long time," Dowell said. "We will have a better idea when we get more testing."

What is clear, Dowell said, is Natrona County residents are doing a poor job of following health officials' guidance — particularly with wearing face masks.

On Monday, Natrona County health officials echoed the Centers for Disease Control's call for people to wear face masks or cloth face coverings when they venture out into public of activities like grocery shopping.

Dowell said he is "very disappointed" in what he's seen in Natrona County so far in terms of following those guidelines.

The county health officer said he'd visited a local grocery store where he saw less than half of the employees wearing fac masks. One-in-four shoppers were wearing masks, Dowell said, adding that he's also seen people not paying attention to social distancing practices.

"We're not out of the woods at all," Dowell said. "We're not trying to be mean to you. We're just trying to keep you healthy."

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