Starting next Monday, masks will be mandatory in Dane County. According to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, county health officials plan to distribute masks in the coming days.
“The masking order will go into effect Monday to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place to make everyone aware of the requirement and to make masks available to everyone,” he said. “Dane county emergency management has 20,000 masks on hand and have ordered another 50,000 cloth masks for distribution to those in need.”
Starting next week, those over the age of five must wear protective masks when inside a public place, or even when visiting someone else’s home.
Those with physical, mental or developmental issues who cannot wear masks are exempted from the requirement.
Public Health Madison Dane County Director Janel Heinrich says the order will be enforced by an unarmed response team.
“We are not asking law enforcement for support with enforcement of this order,” Heinrich said. “The enforcement will occur through our public health education, outreach compliance and enforcement efforts; a team we already have in place.”
That team was established in late May as part of the Forward Dane reopening plan.
In a memo dated one month ago, the local public health agency states that wearing a mask may be difficult or impossible for those with certain health conditions, like emphysema or dementia. The same memo also stresses that racial profiling or discrimination may occur against those wearing masks. And, the memo raises unintended consequences of enforcing a mask mandate, from violence between citizens and law enforcement to the financial consequences of fining those who are already financially stretched.
At a separate press conference earlier today, Governor Tony Evers said that he had considered implementing a statewide mask policy. But he fears such an order could also be rescinded.
“As you may remember, the Supreme Court ended not only safer at home, but really constricted [what I can do], So we really don’t know if I can do that,” he said. “We’re looking at it, but frankly the Supreme Court has made it much more complex than what it should have been.”
Community organizations, churches, and other neighborhood hubs in Dane County will begin distributing free masks in the coming days.