Dane Co. supervisors invite residents to weigh in on mask mandate

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 8:03 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Two Dane Co. supervisors want to give supporters and opponents of the county’s ongoing mask mandate, which is not set to expire for nearly a month, a chance to have their voices heard on issue.

Late Monday, Supervisors Tim Rockwell and Jeff Weigand, of Sun Prairie and Marshall, respectively, invited community members to the Town of Berry’s town hall next Monday to share their thoughts. They described the event as the first time Dane Co. residents could weigh in on the mandate, which health officials say helps stem the spread of COVID-19.

Public Health Madison and Dane Co. extended into the new year the mask requirement two weeks ago, despite prior indications that the mandate would be allowed to expire soon after Thanksgiving. The latest emergency order pushed the end date for the mask requirement to January 2; however, a slight change allowed people in enclosed spaces to go without one if they are fully vaccinated.

County health officials pointed to the rising number of cases in Dane Co. and the sharply increasing spread of the virus as reasons for the about face. At the time the extension was announced, on Nov. 23, Director Janel Heinrich noted cases had nearly doubled in the previous three weeks and the infection rate had reached an all-time high.

Health officials did note those levels remained lower in Dane Co. than other parts of the state, crediting both the mask mandate and the county’s high vaccination rate.

Rockwell and Weigand, however, allege the county does not share statistics with the public on the effectiveness of mask mandates nor at what infection levels the county would consider lifting the mandate, despite the previous indication from PHMDC that if levels remained where they were in October that the mandate would already be over.

As of Monday morning, Dept. of Health Services statistics do show Dane Co. has the second lowest case activity rate in state. It and the only county with a lower rate, Menonimee Co., also slot are both in the top three for highest vaccination rates in the state. State health officials, while offering plenty of support of mask mandates as a way to prevent the virus from spreading, have not said how much the emergency order contributed to that.

The pair also expressed concern for what they describe as the societal impact of a long-standing face covering mandate – although they do not go further in depth into those effects.

According to their announcement, the forum will provide a chance for individuals to express their opinion about how the mandate affects them.

Organizers also plan to collect written questions that they promise will be delivered to PHMDC and Dane Co. officials. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., Dec. 13, and will be held at:

Town of Berry Town Hall

9046 WI HWY 19

Mazomanie, WI 53560

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