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Face covering mandate gets two-month extension

Gov. Tony Evers declared a new public health emergency Nov. 20, in Wisconsin, as the state’s hospitals are operating at, or very near, full capacity and healthcare providers are struggling to keep up with the demand for care. With, Evers signed Executive Order 95 and Emergency Order 1, which requires the use of face coverings for all over the age of five, to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Both orders are effective immediately and will expire after 60 days (Jan. 19), or with a subsequent superseding order.

“Wisconsin hospitals are overwhelmed and facing staffing shortages,” said Evers. “We continue to see record-setting days of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin. We need everyone to stay home and wear a mask if you have to you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus and we all have to do this together.”

Wisconsin hospitals in every Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition Region are strained, reporting that their intensive care units are often full and that they may no longer be able to accept new patients. More than a third of all hospitals in Wisconsin, are operating at peak capacity and are unable to admit new patients.

Currently, 21 percent of medical surgical beds and 32 percent of intensive care unit beds, are occupied by COVID-19 patients. With the large and growing influx of COVID-19 patients, there are fewer beds and resources available for people with non-COVID-19 conditions, who require hospitalizations.

Face coverings are required when an individual is indoors or in an enclosed space other than a private residence, and when others not part of the household are present. Face coverings are also recommended when social distancing cannot be achieved outdoors.

Exceptions for the order include those with breathing problems, eating or drinking, those with sensory or mental health disabilities, and incarcerated individuals.

The order is enforceable by civil forfeiture of not more than $200.