Evers extends statewide mask mandate, issues new public health order after campus outbreaks

two Handmade Cloth Mask

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has extended the state’s mandatory mask mandate until Nov. 21, citing an increase of coronavirus cases across the state and on college campuses.

The mask mandate has been in effect since August and was set to expire Sept. 28.  It requires everyone age 5 and older to wear a mask while indoors, except at home.

“We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus,” Gov. Evers said.

“We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially—please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called Evers a “lawless governor” and said the extension is illegal.

“Wisconsin Statutes clearly state the powers given to the executive branch during a public health emergency are limited,” Vos said in the statement. “There is already a court challenge and undoubtedly, there will be more. No one branch of government can rule outside the letter of the law and go unchecked, even during a pandemic.”

Wisconsin is seeing a surge in cases, especially among young adults. Evers said 18 to 24-year-olds have a case rate five times higher than any other age group.

Eight Wisconsin cities were listed among the top twenty cities in the United States were COVID-19 cases were rising fastest. Six of those cities have University of Wisconsin System campuses.

Dane County is one area of Wisconsin seeing a surge in cases linked to college campuses.

Executive Joe Parisi called on University of Wisconsin-Madison officials to transition to virtual instruction after seeing a major increase in new cases since the start of September.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank responded by saying the rise in new cases has been due to large gatherings taking place in bars, apartments and other off-campus areas.

“Until those agencies with enforcement authority take additional action, we shouldn’t expect to see a rapid decline in cases in Dane County,” Blank said.

Wisconsin surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.