Gov. Evers issues statewide mask mandate

Gov. Tony Evers has declared a public health emergency and issued a statewide mask requirement Thursday in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The order is effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, and will expire on Sept. 28.

"We’ve said all along that we’re going to let science and public health experts be our guide in responding to this pandemic, and we know that masks and face coverings will save lives," Evers said. "While I know emotions are high when it comes to wearing face coverings in public, my job as governor is to put people first and to do what's best for the people of our state, so that's what I am going to do."

Earlier this week, thousands of people signed a petition urging state leaders to implement a statewide mask mandate as the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 topped 50,000.

With COVID-19 not going away any time soon, the pressure to implement a statewide mask order was increasing as states led by both Republican and Democratic governors have enacted them. 

About 30 states now have mask requirements including Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. A handful of local governments are also issuing them including Dane County, Glendale, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Racine, Shorewood, Superior, Whitefish Bay and Whitewater.

Gov. Tony Evers has been telling people to wear a mask since the beginning of the pandemic but said for weeks the State Supreme Court ruling that ended the state's "safer at home" order has stopped him from issuing a statewide mandate.

"The Supreme Court left us in a very messy situation and it created chaos,” Evers said in a media briefing last week. “But frankly, people can put on a mask right now, there is nothing preventing you from doing it."

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