GOP Senator calls for session to end mask order

Republican State Sen. Duey Stroebel (R - Saukville) said Friday he wants the state legislature to return to session and strike down Governor Tony Evers' extension of the statewide mask mandate.

Stroebel said local governments and public health departments should be the ones to issue restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic because the spread of the virus is worse in some parts of the state than others.

"With an emergency order, it gives very strong powers to the executive branch and we understand that, for 60 days, that's in our laws and it makes sense," said Stroebel. "But the problem is, we're dealing with the same 'emergency,' the same pandemic and he doesn't have the right to continue to just do a series of 60-day emergency orders."

Stroebel and GOP Senator Steve Nass (R - Whitewater) have publicly called for a legislative session to end the mandate. The Republican-controlled legislature has yet to pass any bills since the pandemic hit the U.S. in March.

UW Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof described Wisconsin as the "poster child" of taking a local control approach to COVID-19. He said the results, a record-high amount of more than 500 current hospitalizations this week, is proof the approach isn't working.

"You can look at where Wisconsin's at. We have some of the highest case numbers per capita in the country," Pothof said. "We have hospitals saying that they're getting full. We have an economy that doesn't seem like it's doing all the much better than anyone else is."

Wisconsin is currently 29th in cases per capita according to data compiled by Statista. Pothof referred to rising hospitalizations in the Fox Valley and North Central parts of the state, as well as concerns expressed by the Wisconsin Hospital Association about dwindling bed capacity in those regions.

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