Madison, Dane Co. mask order extended; new wind instrument exception added

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:01 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:28 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Madison and Dane Co. health officials extended the county’s indoor mask mandate in October.

Public Health Madison & Dane Co. announced the move Thursday morning, noting how fast the rate of new cases have skyrocketed in the county since the Delta variant became the dominant strain.

“At this point in the pandemic, we all know how to help stop the spread of illness, by getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors, going outdoors when you can, and distancing yourself from others,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said.

The new order will remain in effect until just after midnight on Friday, October 8, the county said. It carries over virtually unchanged from the previous one, requiring nearly everyone 2 years old or older to wear a face covering when in an enclosed public space with people who are not members of their own household or when they are riding on public transportation.

The same exemptions carry over from the original order, allowing for masks to be removed when eating or drinking, when talking to someone hard of hearing, or during certain types of performances, among other situations. Click here for the order to see the full list.

One new carve-out creates an exemption for playing wind instruments that have fabric bell covers, or similar covers, on them. Health officials explained the change came after consultation with other communities about their guidance, and the agency noted the federal officials do not address the matter.

“We highly encourage all performing arts to consider all the ways in which they can reduce disease transmission, especially as the highly-contagious Delta variant continues to spread in Dane County,” PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich said.

According to PHMDC figures, the seven day rolling average across the county nearly quintupled in under a month, going from 19 cases per day on July 19 to over 91 per day on August 12. That average currently sits at just under 90 cases per day.

Additionally, the CDC warns the level of community transmission in Dane Co. is high.

The sharp rise since the Delta variant took hold has come despite the county having the highest vaccination rate in the state and, PHMDC notes, one of the highest rates in the country.

The Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services reports just under 70 percent of all residents, including those who are not eligible for the vaccine, are considered fully vaccinated, i.e. having received all of their doses and completed their two week waiting period. Limiting the list to just adults, over 81 percent of Dane Co. residents are fully vaccinated.

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