Following weeks of declining COVID-19 infections due to Public Health Madison and Dane County’s Emergency Order #12, PHMDC issued Emergency Order #13 to continue to combat the pandemic.

After Emergency Order #12 was issued, PHMDC said hospitalizations and infections decreased to manageable levels. This falls in line with public health goals of curbing the pandemic — a goal becoming more possible as vaccines are distributed to more people across the state.

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Though, infection levels are still not as low as they were in the summer of 2020. As a result, PHMDC’s Emergency Order #13 maintains Dane County must continue to reopen slowly in order to keep COVID-19 cases low and prevent outbreaks, which are especially dangerous due to Dane County’s large population.

The emergency order also stated the importance of prevention due to the discovery of more contagious COVID-19 strains and their increasing presence in the United States. Wearing a mask and social distancing play a large role in the management of the virus.

This order comes amid continuing conflicts between the Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Evers’ administration on mask mandates to combat the spread of COVID-19. The legislature voted to end the mask mandate last week and in effect limited the executive power of Evers to issue a mask mandate without support of the legislature.

In order to increase prevention measures already in place in Dane County, PHMDC’s Emergency Order #13 requires everyone older than 5 years old to wear a mask indoors and outdoors when around other people. It also prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 25 people if food or drinks are being served and prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people if food or drinks are being served.

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According to a news conference from PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich, Emergency Order #13 also requires people to wear face coverings if they are in groups of more than 50 outdoors. Heinrich urged Dane County residents to be cautious about interacting with people in case of exposure and to protect those around them.

“I urge people who live in Dane County to continue to protect our progress by understanding the different levels of risk that activities carry,” Heinrich said at the conference.