Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Courthouse, Transit System Drop Mask Requirement

Milwaukee County downgraded by CDC to "low" COVID-19 risk.

By - Feb 17th, 2023 03:42 pm
Essential trips only on MCTS buses. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Essential trips only on MCTS buses early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County’s mask mandates are no more on buses and at the courthouse.

The county’s COVID-19 risk assessment has been downgraded to “low” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leading to a relaxing of recommended disease precautions.

With this news, Milwaukee County dropped its mask requirement in the county courthouse and on Milwaukee County Transit System buses. The county will continue to require masks for visitors and employees in “high-risk” facilities such as the Milwaukee County Jail, the Vel R. Philips Juvenile Justice Facility, the Community Reintegration Center and behavioral health clinics.

“Our hope is that this current COVID-19 decrease continues, but, if needed, we now have tools in place to be agile and adjust our response to COVID-19 to protect and serve our colleagues and our community,” the county executive’s office said in a statement sent out to county department heads Friday.

The CDC ratings assess the relative COVID-19 risk in a community, and they come with recommended guidelines for each level (low, medium, high). A “low” community disease level means that some of the COVID-19 precautions recommended by the CDC may no longer be necessary.

The major change that accompanies a “low” community risk level is the CDC no longer recommending masking in public spaces. However, it maintains that vaccination should remain up to date and ventilation improvements maintained. Additionally, avoid contact with sick people who have or may have COVID-19, isolate if you have or suspect you have the disease and follow CDC guidelines for exposure to COVID-19.

The county and the transit system reinstated their mask requirements in October, after a short-lived period of low community disease risk that began in late September. Even during periods of mask requirements, there was little to no enforcement of the mandate on MCTS buses.

Mask requirements at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport and on airplanes ended following a federal court ruling in April 2022.

The Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management does show that there was a slight increase in the number of people hospitalized and the percentage of people that tested positive during the past seven days on a COVID-19 data dashboard that is updated every Friday at 1 a.m. The number of new cases is slightly down, and there were zero deaths during that same period.

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