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Gov. Evers issues new mask order, public health emergency

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 9:47 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has declared a new public health emergency in Wisconsin and issued a new masking order as cases of COVID-19 grow at a “near exponential rate.”

Both orders go into effect immediately. They will expire after 60 days or with the declaration of a new order. That sets the expiration date at Nov. 21.

“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,” reads a statement from the governor’s office.

Over the last seven days, the state has recorded a 16.4 percent positive rate.

The order requires people to wear masks or face coverings in enclosed spaces where people congregate. There are exceptions for those who have medical issues and cannot wear a mask. CLICK HERE to read the full mask order.

The governor’s previous mask order was set to expire soon.

“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.”

CLICK HERE to read the new public health emergency order.

Gov. Evers says the recent surge in cases is among younger people. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services attributes the spread to in-person social gatherings.

“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.”

CLICK HERE to track COVID-19 numbers in Wisconsin.

Some Republicans in the state legislature oppose the governor’s mask order, calling it unconstitutional and illegal. “The Governor’s order is not valid and is not worth the paper it’s printed on,” reads a statement from Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai sounded off on the order Tuesday afternoon during the Action 2 News at 4:30.

You can watch the interview with him below.

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