Mask requirements, recommendations return to southeast Wisconsin amid COVID-19 surge

Posted at 11:24 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 16:14:38-04

Mask requirements and recommendations are returning to businesses and city buildings across parts of southeast Wisconsin, regardless of vaccination status.

Metcalfe's Market announced Wednesday all staff and vendors will be required to wear a mask, and for customers it will be strongly recommended.

To some customers, it was business as usual.

"I have no problem with that," said Richard Franklin. "Because I think there's a rebound of the virus, and people should use some common sense and be healthier, especially somebody my age."

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Franklin says he is fully vaccinated, but he's not taking any chances.

"They tell me it’s not something you want to catch," Franklin said. "And I have bad lungs and asthma, and so when they said get it, I got it right away. Why even take the chance? Wear your mask."

According to the CDC, Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine counties have substantial transmission. That's when it recommends masking up indoors regardless of vaccination status.

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"We take the guidance of the CDC and local health officials, and so we've implemented the rule here at Metcalfe's Market for our employees and vendors to be masked at this time until a new recommendation is made," Metcalfe said. "But at this point our job is to keep our employees safe, keep our customers safe."

Starting Thursday, if you are working in or visiting a Racine city building, you'll need to wear a mask. That includes community centers as well as police and fire buildings. City of Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox said the city's case rate has increased 900 percent over the last two weeks, and less than 40 percent of the city is vaccinated.

In Milwaukee, six Alders are asking Mayor Tom Barrett and Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson to consider an indoor mask requirement should the city reach high transmission.

During a media briefing Tuesday, Mayor Barrett said it's not out of the question.

"We are monitoring this very, very closely," Mayor Barrett said. "Our concern of course is, what is the most effective way to fight this pandemic, and I continue to believe that the vaccination is. But that does not mean we are ruling out masks at some point if it's necessary."

County Executive David Crawley also announced Tuesday there will be stricter mask requirements for county employees starting next week.

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