Gov. Tony Evers has declared a new public health emergency due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases among young people and extended Wisconsin’s mask mandate through Nov. 21.
An emergency order requiring everyone age 5 and older to wear a face covering in public spaces and an executive order declaring a 60-day public health emergency were issued Tuesday, Sept. 22.
According to the governor’s order, 71 out of 72 counties currently have high disease activity and the state saw record high numbers of Wisconsinites test positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 17 (2,034) and Sept. 18 (2,534). The increases are being driven by high rates of infections among 18-24 year-olds, who have case rates five times higher than any other age group, according to the executive order.
As of Monday, Sept. 21, 102,498 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in Wisconsin, according to the Department of Health Services. Douglas County had 390 confirmed cases, according to the state dashboard. Of those, the county reports, only 12% of the cases are currently active and 88% have recovered.
Face coverings are a proven, effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 without having a significant impact on people's day-to-day lives, Evers said in the order. Without a vaccine, the state is using the tools available — face coverings and social distancing.
The emergency order requiring face coverings lists situations in which masks may be removed, such as while eating or drinking, getting dental services or to confirm an individual's identity, and allows certain medical exemptions. The order is enforceable by a $200 fine.