MILWAUKEE COUNTY — Milwaukee County will continue to require masks inside its facilities, arguing that its programs serve some of the area's most vulnerable people - people the CDC is still recommending wear masks.
That includes private, indoor events on county property, the county announced in an updated face mask order Thursday. However, non-county employees will not be required to wear masks while outdoors on county-owned properties.
The policy is required for either fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
County employees will still need to wear masks in county facilities as well as outdoors on county property when they can't maintain social distancing. Workers will also still need to wear masks during jobs off-site, such as at people's homes.
The county operates a number of facilities where at-risk people are, including the hospital run by the Behavioral Health Division, public buses, the airport, the courts system, the jail and the House of Correction.
The county's updated mask policy states while progress has been made in vaccinating residents, transmission rates remain high and vaccination rates have yet to reach an acceptable level, with about 36.5 percent of residents fully vaccinated, according to data from the Department of Health Services.
This policy doesn't directly affect the City of Milwaukee's and other municipalities' adjusted mask orders in the county - many of which are dropping their mask mandates in the coming days. The county's mask mandate only affects people on county-owned facilities and property.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley reiterated in Thursday's updated policy that data continues to drive their decisions regarding the pandemic.
“With more than 4,000 County employees, we must also consider how best to protect our dedicated workforce, who are critical to delivering essential services to the community every day,” said Crowley.
“The best path forward for Milwaukee County is for as many members of our community to be vaccinated as soon as possible, which means we must do everything we can to ensure that anyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get one,” Crowley said in the statement.
The county says it will continue to review its policy regarding masks.
'Healthy homes' program
Also on Thursday, Milwaukee County announced the launch of a new program to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to people's homes, who might have difficulty getting to a vaccination site.
The county describes the Healthy Homes program as specifically bringing the vaccine to either people who need help from another person or medical equipment to leave their home; or people whose medical provider believes their health or illness may worsen if they leave home.
The county states roughly 9,500 residents fit this group, or about 6 percent of people on Medicare who have trouble leaving home in Milwaukee County.
"Each county resident has unique needs and some of those needs can unfortunately create barriers to obtaining care. To eliminate those barriers, Healthy Homes meets residents where they are and brings vaccines directly into their homes,” said County Executive Crowley.
Read the updated mask policy and the Healthy Homes program below: