Dane Co. Board of Health speaks out against resolution calling for mask order to be revoked

MADISON, Wis. — Members of Dane County’s Board of Health are speaking out against a proposed resolution from the county board that calls on Public Health to revoke its latest health order and mask mandate.

Dane County Resolution 157, which is being introduced by Supervisors Jeff Weigand, Dave Ripp and Tim Rockwell, urges Public Health Madison & Dane County director Janel Heinrich to pull back her latest emergency order “until public input and the consent of the governed has been achieved.”

Dane County’s latest face-covering emergency order went into effect on September 10th and will be in effect until at least October 8th. Unlike the previous order, it does provide exemptions for performers and those playing instruments.

RELATED: Dane Co. extends mask mandate into October, includes exemptions for performers

The resolution questions the facts behind the orders and the level of public input that was involved in the decision.

In a recent letter, members of the county’s Board of Health opposed the resolution, saying they find it “extremely disheartening that Supervisor Weigand has chosen to use his platform to bring forth a resolution that suggests that public health decisions aren’t based on science, facts and data.”

“That is simply not true and further spreads misinformation,” the Board of Health wrote.

Dane County has consistently ranked among the most-vaccinated counties in the country, but health officials cited growing case numbers and the tens of thousands of people still left unvaccinated in the county as a reason for extending the recent mask order.

“The Board fully supports the use of Emergency Public Health Orders to continue to protect our community,” the Board of Health wrote. “The orders are brought forth with thoughtful consideration of data by experienced and knowledgeable public health staff.”

The Board of Health also said while it values public input, the process would take too long and complicate matters during a global pandemic.

“Public Health deeply values the input of the community and key stakeholders and works hard to build relationships and engage with partners as much as possible. However, during an emergency situation, taking additional time to gather community input could result in additional harm,” the Board of Health wrote.

“As we continue to see people in Dane County become ill and die from COVID-19, we must do everything in our power to protect our fellow citizens. Wearing masks is simple and helps mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This is a proven fact. There is data to support it,” the Board continued.

“We should continue to follow the educated, trusted, expert guidance of our public health leaders in regards to these matters,” the Board concluded.

The Board of Health is made up of several medical professionals, including Dr. Jerry Halverson, Kim Whitmore, Robin Lankton, County Supervisor Holly Hatcher, Paula Tran Inzeo, Dr. Debbie Jones and City of Madison Alder Lindsay Lemmer.

You can read the board’s full letter here or below. Also embedded is a copy of the proposed Dane County resolution.