Hey Wisconsin! Assuming you haven’t already made mask-wearing a part of your everyday life, listen up! The statewide mask mandate that has been in effect since July 2020 and has been extended every 60 days even though it has been constantly challenged and ignored by the MASK MANDATE BAD crowd is still in effect and has been extended another 60 days! So keep wearing those masks!

Gov. Tony Evers announced his intentions to extend the mandate last week. He formally did so Tuesday afternoon with the signing of Executive Order #104 and Emergency Order #1. The previous mask mandate was set to expire January 19. The new expiration date is March 20.

As before, the mask mandate requires Wisconsinites who are five years old and older to wear a face covering if they’re in an enclosed space other than a private residence, and if “another person or persons who are not members of individual’s household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space.” Exceptions—like eating and drinking—are provided.

“We’re working every day to get vaccines distributed and get shots in arms to get our state back to some sort of normal,” Evers said in a statement. “At the end of the day, vaccine supplies are limited, so while we continue to ask the federal government for more vaccines and faster, we have to keep working together to stop the spread today by continuing wear our masks, staying home whenever we can, avoiding gatherings, and doubling down on our efforts to keep our friends, neighbors, and families safe.”

Earlier today, Wisconsin health officials announced that COVID-19 vaccine shots will be made available to all Wisconsinites 65 years or older beginning January 25.

The mask and vaccine news comes amidst the recent announcement that Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm—long the face of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, as well as a constant target for Wisconsin Republicans—will leave her job on January 20. Palm will instead serve as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Biden Administration.

“Andrea Palm is a public servant through and through—she’s been a critical part of our administration and a consummate professional who has done an extraordinary job helping lead our state during an unprecedented public health crisis,” Evers said in a statement. “I know she will continue to serve our country just as she has our state—with empathy, kindness, and tenacity. I wish her our very best as she leaves us to take this new opportunity.”

Karen Timberlake, DHS secretary under former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, will serve as DHS interim secretary beginning January 25.

Oh, and the mask news  also comes complete with a mandatory response by Wisconsin Republicans that MASK MANDATE BAD.

“The time has come for the Wisconsin Legislature to stand up for civil liberties and put an end to the excessive actions of Governor Evers to control the people of this state with unending COVID-19 emergency declarations,” Republican State Senator Steve Nass said in a statement last week. “The people of Wisconsin have been living with COVID-19 for almost a year now. They are more than capable of determining for themselves and their family what steps are appropriate in their daily lives without the heavy hand of Evers.”

To date 5,512 Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19.

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Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.