Last updated on September 24th, 2020 at 10:04 am
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers today extended the statewide face covering mandate through Nov. 21.
The mandate, which has been in effect since Aug. 1, was set to expire on Monday, Sept. 28.
The mandate extension comes as the state is seeing “unprecedented, near-exponential growth” of the COVID-19 pandemic, Evers said Tuesday. The daily number of new cases has risen from 678 on Aug. 31 to 1,791 on Sept. 21, with infections among 18- to 24-year-olds driving the increase.
Evers also issued a new public health emergency Tuesday in response to a surge in new COVID-19 cases on college and university campuses. Evers noted that eight Wisconsin cities are listed among the top 20 cities in the U.S. where COVID-19 cases are rising fastest, six of which 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.”
Evers’ order requires Wisconsin residents ages five and older to wear a face covering when they are indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone outside their household. Under the order, violators can be fined up to $200.
“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. “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 mask mandate is being challenged in court. In late August, three western Wisconsin residents, represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, filed a lawsuit contending Evers didn’t have the legal authority to order it.