Dane Co. extends mask mandate into 2022

Health officials had said they hoped the current one would be the last.
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 1:51 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After initially indicating the latest round of mask mandates in Dane Co. would likely end this weekend, Dane Co. health officials reversed course and will institute a new one that will require nearly everyone to wear a face covering through the holidays and into next year.

On Tuesday, Public Health Madison and Dane Co. issued the new order, which will go into effect on Saturday. The latest mandate extends nearly all of the restrictions imposed by the prior one, with one important exception: masks will not be required if everyone inside an enclosed space is fully vaccinated.

PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich explained her agency changed course after the rate that COVID-19 was spreading changed course and started increasing sharply, nearly doubling in the past three weeks. On top of that, she continued, the infection rate among children has reached an all-time high.

While cases are rising rapidly, health officials did note levels in Dane Co. remain lower than other parts of the state, crediting both the mask mandate and the county’s high vaccination rate. The latest Dept. of Health Services figures show more than three-quarters of all residents, including those who are not yet eligible, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Because holiday travel will likely see many residents headed to place where vaccination rates are lower than Dane Co., Board of Health Chair Jerry Halverson argued that “[k]eeping a mask order as an added layer of protection is a smart decision for the county” and will also help provide extra protection for those who are still going through the vaccination process.

The order 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, adding the new caveat for when everyone is vaccinated.

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.

The order will remain in place until Jan. 3, 2022.

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