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Evers issues new COVID-19 public health emergency, mask mandate

09/22/2020 10:14 AM | Anonymous

Wisconsin Health News - September 22, 2020

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday declared a new public health emergency in response to rising cases of COVID-19 among young people, issuing a new indoor face coverings mandate that goes through Nov. 21.

It's the third COVID-19-related public health emergency he’s declared. The current public health emergency, declared in July and expiring Sept. 28, remains in effect.

Evers said in a statement that they saw a slow down in new COVID-19 cases last month as a result of the mandate, but the reopening of college campuses has caused cases to surge. 

Under the order, Wisconsinites five and older have to wear a face mask when indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone outside their household.

“We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” Evers said in a statement. “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially—please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out.” 

Evers’ second order faces a challenge from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which says that the governor can’t declare multiple public health emergencies for the same crisis. Evers’ first public health emergency related to COVID-19 ran from March 12 through May 11

"Gov. Evers and his team believe the presence of COVID-19 supersedes the rule of law and our state constitution," WILL President Rick Esenberg said in a Tuesday statement. "They are wrong. Letting this gross abuse of power stand is not an option."

Spokespeople for Republican legislative leaders, who have previously said local governments should be taking measures to fight COVID-19 rather than the state, did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday morning. 

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