In a press release Tuesday morning, Gov. Tony Evers extended Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate through November 21. The original mandate was set to expire September 28.
“We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” Evers said in the press release. “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. 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. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together.”
The extension is part of a new public health emergency order, which can be read in full HERE.
“Wisconsin is now experiencing unprecedented, near exponential growth of the COVID-19 pandemic with the daily number of new cases rising from 678 on August 31st to 1,791 on September 21st, a 260 percent increase in three weeks,” reads the order. “This exponential growth is being driven by new factors not present before, primarily the significant increase in spread due to the beginning of the K-12 and collegiate school years, which all began on or about September 1, and the unprecedented number of infections among 18-24 year-olds.”
Here’s the “now therefore” part of the order—a.k.a. the good stuff:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, TONY EVERS, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of this state, and specifically by Sections 321.39, 323.10, 323.12, and 323.13 of the Wisconsin Statutes, hereby:
1. Proclaim that a public health emergency, as defined in Section 323.02(16) of the Wisconsin Statutes, exists for the State of Wisconsin.
2. Designate the Department of Health Services as the lead agency to respond to the public health emergency and direct the Department to take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent and respond to COVID19.
3. Authorize the Adjutant General to activate the Wisconsin National Guard as necessary and appropriate to assist in the State’s response to the public health emergency, including providing personnel to support the November 3 general election and personnel to operate community testing sites throughout Wisconsin.
4. Direct all state agencies to assist as appropriate in the State’s ongoing response to the public health emergency.
5 . Pursuant to Section 323.10 of the Wisconsin Statutes, this Public Health Emergency shall remain in effect for 60 days, or until it is revoked by the Governor or by joint resolution of the Wisconsin State Legislature.
And here’s the full press release announcing the order:
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today declared a new public health emergency in Wisconsin due to recent surge in cases among young people and issued a new face coverings order effective immediately. Executive Order #90 is available here. Emergency Order #1 is available here. Both orders are effective immediately and will expire after sixty days or with a subsequent superseding order. The governor previously declared a public health emergency under Executive Order #82, which remains in effect.
“We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. 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. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together.”
With the start of the school year, Wisconsin is seeing a surge in cases, especially among young people. In fact, 18 to 24-year-olds have a case rate five times higher than any other age group. This significant increase has only occurred within the past month and appears to be driven by in-person social gatherings. Last week, eight Wisconsin cities were listed among the top twenty cities in the United States where COVID-19 cases were rising fastest, and six of those eight cities have University of Wisconsin System campuses.
“The current surge among young people is concerning, but it is important to remember that this increase in cases is not confined to college campuses,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Students come to these campuses from across the state, and we worry about the effect their return from an area with a high infection rate could have on their home communities. That is why it is imperative we take action to curb transmission now – to protect residents of Wisconsin in every corner of the state.”
Wisconsin is now experiencing unprecedented, near-exponential growth of the COVID-19 pandemic with the daily number of new cases rising from 678 on August 31st to 1,791 on September 21st, a 2.6-fold increase in three weeks, driven in part by the unprecedented number of infections among 18-24 year-olds.
“We need to remember that most respiratory viruses see their peak activity in Wisconsin between late fall and early spring,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin’s Chief Medical Officer and the State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases. “We need to do everything we can now to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prepare for the winter. That is why we need to continue wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. It is also why we encourage everyone to get a flu shot this year; the flu shot cannot protect you from COVID-19, but by helping protect you from the flu, it helps strengthen our COVID-10 response here in Wisconsin by preserving hospital and testing capacity.”
On July 30, Gov. Evers issued Executive Order #82 to declare a public health emergency as a result of a spike in COVID-19 cases in counties throughout the state. At the same time, Gov. Evers issued a statewide face covering mandate. New cases of COVID-19 slowed down in August as a result of the mandate, but as campuses reopened the last several weeks, there has been a new surge in cases across our state. With today’s new face covering order, Wisconsin residents ages five and older are required to wear a face covering when they are indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone outside their household or living unit.
For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. We also encourage you to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram for more information on COVID-19.