Public Health Madison & Dane County extended its mask mandate for Dane County to Jan. 3, with an exception for enclosed spaces where only fully vaccinated people are present.

In the previous mask order, the city had announced that they had no plans of extending the mask mandate past Nov. 27 due to a downward trend in COVID-19 cases. But since that order, the Midwest has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases, with rates in Dane County nearly doubling between Oct. 23 and Nov. 19.

The highest COVID-19 rate in Dane County is in children ages five to 11. The latest order is intended to give this population more time to get vaccinated, according to the order.

Chair of the Board of Health Dr. Jerry Halverson said in a press release that the mask order is also to prevent a surge following the holiday season.

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“Keeping a mask order as an added layer of protection is a smart decision for our county,” Halverson said. “Families may soon venture outside of Dane County for the holidays and will likely encounter areas with lower vaccination rates, so keeping masks on for a little bit longer provides a circle of protection for those who are still in the process of becoming fully vaccinated.”

New from previous orders, the latest order provides an exception for enclosed spaces with only vaccinated people present.

The FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11 Oct. 29. The City of Madison offers walk-in vaccine appointments for children at the Alliant Energy Center but recommends booking in advance to guarantee availability.

PHMDC is offering booster shots to anyone who is 18 and older and has had six months since their last Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months since their last Johnson & Johnson vaccine. City of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway encouraged both vaccines and masks in a press release.

Dane County has a COVID-19 case rate of 391.3 per 100,000 people, according to the Wisconsin DHS dashboard. Wisconsin as a state has a case rate of 767.7 per 100,000 people according to the dashboard.

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“The landscape of COVID continues to evolve, and we are at a point in this pandemic where it’s likely that COVID will keep spreading in our communities for years like the flu does — cases may go up and down, but will never completely go away,” Rhodes-Conway said. “Vaccines are the best tool we have to prevent COVID illness and severe outcomes, but masks, physical distancing, and other tools provide an added layer of protection.”