Area health departments prepare in anticipation of vote to overturn statewide mask mandate

Members of Wisconsin’s Senate voted to overturn the mandate earlier this week
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 10:15 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A vote expected Thursday in the Wisconsin Assembly could overturn Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate.

Members of the Wisconsin Senate voted to overturn the order on Tuesday, and area health officials are urging lawmakers to reconsider overturning the order.

RELATED: INTERVIEW: Sen. Cowles questions why fellow GOP members want to repeal mask mandate

Those same health officials are ready to react to the vote.

“Maintaining a state wide mandate is really our preference but we will issue one from the county health department if necessary,” said Doug Gieryn, the Winnebago County Public Health Officer.

Gieryn says he’s confident that a mask mandate will have local support and the burden of enforcement shouldn’t pit businesses against each other.

“I think many businesses would prefer that there’s a level playing field and if there’s an order in place, it means everyone follows it,” said Gieryn.

As Action 2 News previously reported in July, Appleton’s mayor issued a proclamation strongly advising people to wear a mask, but it wasn’t a mandate.

Kurt Eggebrecht, the Health Officer for the City of Appleton, says voluntary compliance could once again be requested.

I think everybody that I talk to recognizes that the science drives this virus and masks work. So I think by taking that approach. I expect Appleton people to continue to wear a mask. I think they see the value and the numbers are coming down as use of mask,” said Eggebrecht.

If Assembly members vote to repeal the order, Wisconsin will become one of only 10 states without mask mandates.

“Without the mask mandate we certainly, especially this time of year, with people being primarily indoors we certainly could see an increase in transmission,” said Gieryn.

State law gives the Legislature the power to overturn emergency orders issued by the governor, a move that does not require the governor’s approval to take effect.

Action 2 News will continue to follow the Assembly’s vote, and will have the latest on-air, online, and on our First Alert app.

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