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Wisconsin Democrats propose mask mandate that would last for entire pandemic

Heifetz resigning as Wisconsin Medicaid director
Posted at 2:57 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 16:13:50-05

MADISON — Democrats in Wisconsin's legislature have introduced a proposal to create a new statewide mask order that would last for the remainder of the pandemic, even though the measure is unlikely to pass the Republican-led body.

This comes as Gov. Tony Evers issued a new mask mandate and public health emergency following Republicans' vote to bring down the previous mask mandate. Wisconsin residents are still required to wear masks in public.

The Democratic representatives backing the mask mandate required by legislative action, compared to an executive order by the governor, argue a long-lasting mandate is critical to stopping the spread of the virus, in tandem with vaccine expansion and other efforts.

“Our proposal is about science, public health and common sense," writes Rep. Sara Rodriguez (D-Brookfield) in a statement. "In my experience as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the CDC, I know how effective wearing a mask can be in preventing the spread of a virus like COVID-19, and ensuring Wisconsin has a mask order in place all across the state is critical to stopping the spread. I urge my Republican colleagues to pass this bill to protect all Wisconsinites.”

This mask mandate, titled LRB 1809/1, has the backing of all legislative Democrats. If approved by the Assembly, Senate and the governor, it would last until President Joe Biden concludes the national COVID-19 health emergency.

The measure also comes as Gov. Tony Evers promised to veto the first bill passed by the legislature to address the coronavirus pandemic in 10 months on Friday. Democrats argue the Republican-backed bill would not be effective at combating the virus in the state.

Gov. Evers announced his aim to veto the bill minutes after the Senate voted down the aisle to send the bill to him.

Evers asked the legislature to pass a version he can support.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments in November in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Evers’ authority to issue multiple emergency health orders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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