A mandate to wear masks in public indoor spaces will remain in effect in Superior through June 1.

The City Council voted 7-3 Tuesday, April 20, to extend the city’s emergency declaration and masking requirement for one more month in response to the pandemic.

Councilors Jack Sweeney, Craig Sutherland and Keith Kern voted against the measure.

“I perhaps don’t know all the facts, but here are some facts I do know,” Sweeney said. “I think that everyone who wants to get the shot has received it or has plans to get it. There’s multiple outlets now from Duluth to Superior.”

With the high degree of efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, Sweeney said he wasn’t sure why the mask mandate would need to be extended.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“I think we have to have an end game and I don’t know what our end game is,” Sweeney said. He said after looking at Douglas County’s website Tuesday, which hasn’t been updated since March 30, it appeared the pandemic was going in the right direction.

“I need to be convinced why we should do this for another 30 days,” Sweeney said.

“I don’t know that I can convince you, councilor,” Mayor Jim Paine said. “I struggled with the decision myself to propose it.”

When the state’s mask mandate was struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Paine said his office started to field calls to extend the city’s face covering requirement because April 30 was too soon.

Paine said he reached out to the public health officer last week who advised him the numbers were continuing to climb and had doubled from the week before.

“You are correct; the vaccine numbers are climbing,” Paine said Tuesday night. “They are going in the right direction. But cases, hospitalizations and even deaths are not. People are still dying of COVID. We had one new death reported today as well as 19 new cases.”

Since mid-March, when Douglas County reached an average low of two cases per day, the county’s seven-day average has been creeping upward and stood at nine new cases per day on average Tuesday after a week of fluctuating between 11 and 12 cases per day on average.

Paine said he’s hopeful for a return to normalcy by the Fourth of July, but he’s not proposing extending the mask mandate that far out.

“I think clearing the Memorial Day weekend, when you look at the rate of vaccinations, I would be surprised to extend beyond that,” Paine said. “But to be fair, I’m a little surprised to be here as well. I believe this is necessary.”

Councilors Nicholas Ledin, Jenny Van Sickle, Warren Bender, Brent Fennessey, Tylor Elm, Ruth Ludwig and Lindsey Graskey voted in favor of the extension.