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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

A Wyoming Music Festival Will Go On. But A Public Health Expert Wants Ground Rules

Concerts and music festivals around the Mountain West have been canceled due to COVID-19, but not all of them.

Cancelations include outdoor events ranging from Montana’s Red Ants Pants Festival to the Sawtooth Valley Gathering in Idaho. But the new Mad Mountain Music Festival, in Casper, Wyo., will go on this weekend.

Outdoor gatherings are less likely to spread the virus, especially in windy Wyoming. “However, among events outside, I would suggest that a music festival is probably one of the highest risk outdoor activities you could do,” said Christine Porter, a public health professor at the University of Wyoming.

Organizers say they will provide sanitizer stations and that festival goers must wear masks when they’re shoulder-to-shoulder with others in front of the stage. However, they won’t have to wear masks elsewhere on festival grounds unless they come in close contact with others.

Porter says that could be hard to police when people may need to put on and take off their mask over and over as crowds fluctuate and people get closer and farther away.

She noted that drinking, singing and shouting happens at festivals, making it hard to maintain distancing and keep droplets from spreading beyond six-foot buffers. So she recommends masks throughout the festival grounds, markings to specifically outline where people should stand and strict enforcement of both. Without that clarity, she fears "it's just going to dissolve into chaos so fast.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.