City of Milwaukee Health Department issues mask advisory due to Omicron variant

Posted at 3:04 PM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 16:59:43-05

MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee Health Department announced Tuesday that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status or past infection, should wear a mask when in public and indoor settings due to the new Omicron variant.

The city's recommendation follows anticipation of future identification of the new variant in Milwaukee.

Officials noted the burden of positive COVID-19 cases remaining in the extreme transmission category as part of the city's mask advisory.

As of Tuesday, no specimens have been identified as the Omicron variant within the Milwaukee department laboratory.

"All masks should cover the nose and the mouth and rest snugly above the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face," the City of Milwaukee Health Department said in a statement. "This advisory applies to all individuals in the city of Milwaukee over the age of two years who are able to medically tolerate wearing a mask."

Health officials say the advisory does not apply in cases where an individual is performing an activity that cannot be done in a mask, such as sleeping, eating or drinking, playing a sport, playing music, delivering a speech, etc.

Last Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Omicron a variant of concern due to the large number of mutations. Officials say preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection and spread across the world.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said that DHS supports CDC's recommendation that everyone 18-years-old and older should get a COVID-19 booster shot.

"Early data from South Africa suggests that the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) which has been identified in 19 countries, has demonstrated increased transmissibility," Timberlake said in a statement on Tuesday. "The best protection against this new variant, or any variant of COVID-19, is to get fully vaccinated and get a booster shot if you’re eligible."

DHS also announced Tuesday that the state has surpassed 9,000 COVID-19 deaths.

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