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Dane Co., Madison extends mask mandate past Thanksgiving, Black Friday

Health officials expect this to be the last extension for now.
Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 12:37 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A new Dane Co. emergency order pushes the end date for the county’s mask mandate into late November, meaning residents may need to adjust their Thanksgiving plans and Black Friday shoppers will need to bring their face coverings along with their holiday shopping lists.

The new order extends the same restrictions as the prior one, which was set to expire later this week, and is set to expire on Nov. 27. County health officials do not expect to renew it after that time. It requires nearly everyone over 2 years old to wear a face covering or mask when inside an enclosed public space where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit are present.

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.

“Our main goal with masking guidelines continues to be protecting those most vulnerable to the virus, including unvaccinated children,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said. “We know wearing masks helps keep kids from getting sick in school settings and keeps kids in school.”

On Thursday, the Public Health Madison & Dane Co. COVID-19 data snapshot an average of 94 cases per day over the past two weeks, a notable decline over the last time the order was issued. At that point, Dane Co. saw 143 per day, on average, over the preceding two-week span. Local health officials also noted at the time the county recorded both the Wisconsin’s lowest rate of new cases and percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive.

The state’s Dept of Health Services counts Dane Co., which continues to have the highest overall vaccination rate in the state, as one of three counties with a high COVID-19 case activity, along with Rock Co. and Kenosha Co. While ‘high’ case activity isn’t optimal, it is lower than every other Wisconsin county, which remain in the ‘very high’ or ‘critical’ categories.

“With the expansion of eligibility for vaccines, the protection in our County is only going to continue to grow,” Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “Get your booster dose if you can, get your children vaccinated if you can, and we can continue moving this city and this county forward.”

At one point last week, Dane Co. had also dropped from ‘high’ to ‘substantial’ on the Centers for Disease Control’s Community Transmission tracker, and was the only one at that level. It has since returned to the ‘high’ category, where it remains with the rest of the state.

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