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Coalition of Milwaukee organizations calls on mayor, health department to issue indoor mask mandate

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Posted at 5:28 AM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 11:40:25-04

MILWAUKEE — A coalition of Milwaukee organizations released a statement Wednesday, urging Mayor Tom Barrett and the Milwaukee Health Department to issue a new health order that includes a citywide indoor mask mandate.

The statement cites recent increase in COVID-19 numbers in the city and also statewide.

The full statement reads:

“We undersigned organizations call on Mayor Tom Barrett and the Milwaukee Health Department to issue a new health order immediately and implement an indoor mask mandate in the City of Milwaukee. This action is long past due with COVID-19 numbers steadily above extreme transmission levels in our city and around the state. The safety of our communities and our children is paramount, and you must take every action possible to reign in the current surge of COVID-19 infections due to the Delta variant. The disease burden numbers in Milwaukee continue to be at dangerously high numbers and the current increase is similar to what we saw last fall. While we must all work to continue vaccination efforts, universal indoor masking and physical distancing are proven methods to control spread. COVID-19 infections are affecting children at much higher rates than ever before and children under 12 still cannot be vaccinated. Poor and working-class communities are much harder hit by the current surge and historic inequities have been highlighted throughout this pandemic. Inaction by our City’s government is unacceptable, especially in light of this disproportionate impact. This city’s government does not exist simply to respond to the demands of the business lobby and the wealthy. You must act now and you must bring the full power and authority of the Mayor’s office and the Milwaukee Health Department to bear to save lives and prevent unnecessary illness.”

Here are the organizations in the coalition:

  • Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA)
  • Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT)
  • Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC)
  • Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES)
  • Parents for Public Schools of Milwaukee
  • Schools & Communities United
  • Working Families
  • Milwaukee Area Service & Hospitality Workers (MASH)
  • SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin
  • Voces de la Frontera
  • Citizen Action of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals

Mayor Tom Barrett's office responded in an email saying that MTEA is focusing on statewide numbers, when it would be "more appropriate to focus on Milwaukee numbers... So, clearly, there is an ongoing effort to draw conclusions about the data that aren't warranted."

The mayor's office pointed to the 7-day rolling case average, which has declined over the last few weeks.

MKE covid numbers

The mayor's office also shared a statement from the Milwaukee Health Department earlier this month, it said in part: "We are grateful and supportive of all the schools, including MPS, who implemented masking requires as mitigation measures. But we know that vaccination is the most effective step to minimize the spread of the virus and reduce critical illness and hospitalization…The Milwaukee Health Department issued a mask advisory on July 29.”

Nearby cities like Racine have already reinstated a citywide indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 levels rise in the region.

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