Republicans Fight Evers Mask Order
Emergency order “obviously illegal,” Evers a “lawless governor,” Vos declares.
With one week to go before the state’s current statewide mask order expires, Gov. Tony Evers issued a new order Tuesday, along with a new public health emergency order as COVID-19 outbreaks persist on college campuses.
“We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” Evers stated, announcing the two new orders. “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially — please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together.”
The new health emergency order, Executive Order #90, and the new face covering order both take effect immediately, the governor’s office stated. They expire after 60 days “or with a subsequent superseding order,” according to the announcement.
Executive Order #82 took effect Aug. 1 and remains in effect, but it expires next week at the end of 60 days. That order was the vehicle for the current mandatory mask order, which expires next week as well. The governor’s office stated that the original mandate reduced the number of new COVID-19 cases, but the reopening of college campuses has produced a new surge.
The announcement Tuesday cited “unprecedented, near-exponential growth of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The number of new cases for the day was 678 on Aug. 31. On Monday, Sept. 21, there were 1,792 new cases — 2.6 times the number three weeks earlier.
People in the 18-24 age group have tested positive at five times the rate of any other age group, which the governor’s office statement said “appears to be driven by in-person social gatherings.” Eight Wisconsin cities were among the top 20 in the U.S. with the fastest-rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the governor’s office, and six of the eight have University of Wisconsin System campuses.
Even with the surge in that age group, however, “it is important to remember that this increase in cases is not confined to college campuses,” stated Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. Students traveling between high-infection-rate communities and their hometowns risk spreading the virus in other parts of the state.
“That is why it is imperative we take action to curb transmission now — to protect residents of Wisconsin in every corner of the state,” Palm stated.
By noon Tuesday, barely two hours after the new mask order was issued, Democratic lawmakers declared their support for the measure. Two state public health groups, the Wisconsin Public Health Association and the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, also announced their support for the order.
Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, issued statements decrying the order and demanding its rescission.
Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) declared that “much of the growth is in positive tests among college students who have not sought treatment for a COVID-related ailment, but are being tested far more frequently than the general population. COVID-19 cases are stabilizing or declining otherwise.”
That’s not what the DHS data shows, said Dr. Patrick Remington, professor emeritus in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
“Yes, the rate of infection among 18-to-24-year-olds has skyrocketed,” Remington told the Wisconsin Examiner. “The incidence of COVID-19 is increasing in every age group in Wisconsin in the last 30 days. Just because we’re seeing a tremendous spike in college-age young adults does not mean that we’re not having an increasing risk of transmission in other age groups — including people over 60.”
Remington also rejected Allen’s attempt to differentiate between “a positive test” and illness from COVID-19.
“Positive tests demonstrate infection, and from what we know about COVID-19, that is an illness,” Remington said. Although some people, especially younger adults, might show mild symptoms or none at all, “it’s a viral infection that causes inflammation, that causes damage in the lungs and other organs, regardless of whether people are having symptoms. I don’t think we should be cavalier about that.”
It may be years or even decades before the long-term effects of the virus are fully known or understood, he added.
Even if people in that 18-24 age group are less likely to experience severe effects — which is by no means certain — “there’s good evidence that young adults are as capable of spreading COVID-19 to their parents, their grandparents and friends as well as a person of any other age.”
At the time of the Aug. 1 order, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) threatened to call the state Senate into session to overturn it. That never happened; some Republican lawmakers indicated there were not enough votes to block the order.
That order is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, which claimed that the governor had no right to issue it. WILL, which has previously challenged the Evers administration on other issues, argues in its suit that the governor could only declare a new health emergency if the pandemic had first gone away completely.
In a statement Tuesday, the conservative law firm reiterated that argument.
“The declaration of a third COVID-19 emergency — in effect a continuation of the earlier emergencies — by Governor Evers represents a gross abuse of power,” WILL stated, claiming that “to interpret the law otherwise would allow one-person rule by the Governor for what could be a virtually unlimited amount of time whenever the vague statutory definition of a ‘public health emergency’ or ‘disaster” can be said to be present. The result would be the total breakdown of our constitutional order.”
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.
More about the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Milwaukee County Announces New Policies Related to COVID-19 Pandemic - County Executive David Crowley - May 9th, 2023
- DHS Details End of Emergency COVID-19 Response - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Apr 26th, 2023
- Milwaukee Health Department Announces Upcoming Changes to COVID-19 Services - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Mar 17th, 2023
- Fitzgerald Applauds Passage of COVID-19 Origin Act - U.S. Rep Scott Fitzgerald - Mar 10th, 2023
- DHS Expands Free COVID-19 Testing Program - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Feb 10th, 2023
- MKE County: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rising - Graham Kilmer - Jan 16th, 2023
- Not Enough Getting Bivalent Booster Shots, State Health Officials Warn - Gaby Vinick - Dec 26th, 2022
- Nearly All Wisconsinites Age 6 Months and Older Now Eligible for Updated COVID-19 Vaccine - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Dec 15th, 2022
- City of Milwaukee Bi-Weekly COVID-19 Update - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Dec 9th, 2022
- MKE County: COVID-19 Disease Burden Remains Stable - Graham Kilmer - Nov 25th, 2022
Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here
More about the Statewide Mask Mandate
- Court Watch: Why Court Voided Evers Emergency Order - Gretchen Schuldt - Apr 5th, 2021
- Statement by Heartland Institute Director Jeré Fabick on WI Supreme Court Victory Against Gov. Tony Evers - Heartland Institute - Mar 31st, 2021
- Senator Agard: Statement on Supreme Court Decision - State Sen. Melissa Agard, Senate Democratic Leader - Mar 31st, 2021
- Wisconsin’s Hyperpartisan Supreme Court is Endangering the Public - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Mar 31st, 2021
- Wisconsin Supreme Court: Gov. Evers’ Multiple Emergency Declarations Violate Law - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Mar 31st, 2021
- Rep. Hesselbein Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Emergency Orders - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Mar 31st, 2021
- Statement on Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision - State Sen. Jon Erpenbach - Mar 31st, 2021
- Gov. Evers Releases Statement Regarding Supreme Court Decision - Gov. Tony Evers - Mar 31st, 2021
- Rep. Hintz: Statement on Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling - State Rep. Gordon Hintz - Mar 31st, 2021
- State Supreme Court Overrules Evers’ Emergency Powers - Laurel White - Mar 31st, 2021
Read more about Statewide Mask Mandate here