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Health officials hope judge’s ruling stresses need for mask wearing

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 10:18 PM CDT
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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - A Wisconsin judge ruled Monday to deny a request to temporarily block the statewide mask order.

The ruling comes after the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) challenged Governor Evers' latest order.

A Polk County Circuit Court judge denied the motion for a temporary injunction, saying the group is asking to change the status quo, and added that it’s up to the legislature to take action against the order.

The WILL lawsuit challenges whether Evers had the authority to declare a public health emergency on three separate occasions.

The group now says they plan to appeal the judge’s decision.

Health officials say the ruling stresses the need for people to continue wearing a mask, and could empower further enforcement against those who don’t. They also hope more people will see mask wearing as a necessity, and not an option.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Northeast Wisconsin rises, Kurt Eggebrecht, Appleton’s Health Officer, believes people are now getting the message.

“Unfortunately it required hospitalizations and additional fatalities that are being reported that are really bringing to light the seriousness of this illness,” said Eggebrecht.

Others are applauding the court’s ruling.

“Clearly, being about the worst in the nation, at this point we can use all the help we can get,” said Doug Gieryn, of the Winnebago County Health Department.

In Winnebago County, health officials say their focus is on education, but will consider legal action against businesses that don’t follow the mask mandate.

“As we get those complaints from the public or from law enforcement and we will contact them and if it remains an issue then we have to decide if we’re going to make a referral to the district attorney’s office on those or not,” said Gieryn.

“I think people are internalizing how can I help with reducing the spread in our community, so yeah I am optimistic and hopeful people will take this very serious,” said Eggebrecht.

The current mask order, which was extended last month, runs through November 21.

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