The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers’ statewide mask mandate Wednesday morning.
The four-to-three ruling came after Republican lawmakers filed the suit on the mandate in October. The suit said without approval, the governor did not have authority to extend Wisconsin’s public health emergency past 60 days.
The ruling does not affect Dane County’s mask mandate, which is enforced through Public Health Madison & Dane County.
In a statement, Evers stressed that the fight against COVID-19 is not over and Wisconsinites must continue to wear masks.
“Our fight against COVID-19 isn’t over — while we work to get folks vaccinated as quickly as we can, we know wearing a mask saves lives, and we still need Wisconsinites to mask up so we can beat this virus and bounce back from this pandemic,” Evers said.
Although the statewide mask mandate is no longer, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision does not prevent businesses and local municipalities from continuing to require masks.
University of Wisconsin Health Senior Medical Director Matt Anderson said he is hopeful the end of the statewide mask mandate will not affect people continuing to do what they need to stay safe.
According to Anderson, people need to continue to follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include wearing a mask out in public and keeping physical distance from others.
“Hopefully this doesn’t change things much,” Anderson said. “Some local municipalities and counties are going to have ongoing mask mandates, but [we hope] whether there’s a mandate or not in existence, people will abide by the CDC’s recommendations,” Anderson said.
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Anderson said the same messages health care workers and the CDC have been repeating throughout the pandemic still hold true now.
“Masks are really about source control … we’ve seen that people can potentially transmit COVID-19 even when they’re asymptomatic,” Anderson said. “They don’t intend to do anything that would harm anybody else, but they’re not aware. That’s a reason why in public spaces we still encourage people to follow that guidance.”
Anderson said the day the community no longer needs masks will depend on the rate of community spread and the rate of vaccination.
With the success Wisconsin has been seeing in the vaccination process, Anderson is hopeful within the next few months we will start to near a point when masks will no longer be necessary as we get closer to herd immunity.
“Hopefully people will continue to take the opportunity to be vaccinated. The eligibility opening up on Monday certainly affords people the opportunities and supply increases will as well,” Anderson said. “But for now, we’re really hoping people will double-down on the masking, distancing and being cautious so we can continue to see the rates of spread go down.”