Jeramey Jannene

Evers Extending Mask Mandate Into 2021

New order expected in coming days, despite pending legal challenges.

By - Nov 18th, 2020 02:23 pm
Gov. Tony Evers addresses the public during a Department of Health Services media briefing on Aug. 13, 2020. Department of Health Services via YouTube

Gov. Tony Evers addresses the public during a Department of Health Services media briefing on Aug. 13, 2020. Department of Health Services via YouTube

Governor Tony Evers will issue a new public health emergency order by the end of the week, continuing a statewide mask mandate into January 2021.

“This isn’t something happening someplace else to somebody else,” said Evers of the pandemic. “Our friends, our neighbors and our loved ones are getting sick.”

Evers issued his most recent order on September 22nd, when the daily average of new cases was approximately 1,800.

“Things have worsened quickly since then,” said Evers. “The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has tripled.” The number of deaths has doubled. Wisconsin has averaged 6,563 new cases per day over the past week.

“Call it what you want, flattening the curve, stopping the spread, staying safer at home, I’m going to call it what is. It’s about saving lives,” said Evers.

“Since our surge in cases started we have been saying it would get worse before it gets better, and you can see it happening,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm.

The state reported a record 92 deaths Tuesday and a record 7,989 new cases Wednesday.

The current mandate is scheduled to expire on November 21st. Evers is relying on authority that allows the current order to expire after 60 days and a new one to be issued. That authority was not struck down by a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in May that limited Palm’s ability to issue orders.

But Evers’ ability to issue repeated orders is being challenged in court. A separate suit challenges the mask mandate.

He called on Republicans to drop their challenges to the orders. “We have a long road ahead of us Wisconsin, but we know there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Evers. Multiple vaccines are expected to be rolled out in 2021.

Evers’ orders does not include a new “Safer at Home” mandate. States around Wisconsin, where legal challenges have not succeeded, are issuing new orders or expected to do so. Minnesota announced a four-week closure of indoor patronage of bars, restaurants and gyms on Wednesday.

Palm said masks and staying at home will make a difference with more compliance. Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said 80 to 90 percent compliance was needed with masks to make an impact.

Two orders will be released on Thursday or Friday, said Evers. The first order declares the public health emergency and the follow-up order uses the emergency authority to require masks. The governor said there are no current plans to add additional requirements or restrictions given the May court ruling.

With or without the state orders, the City of Milwaukee maintains its own mask mandate as do a host of other Wisconsin municipalities.

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More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

More about the Statewide Mask Mandate

Read more about Statewide Mask Mandate here

Categories: Health

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