Yesterday I joined with Public Health Madison Dane County Director Janel Heinrich, County Executive Joe Parisi, Common Council President Sheri Carter and State Representative Shelia Stubbs to announce the new order requiring facial coverings indoors as this pandemic continues.

As Public Health Director Heinrich stated, “We did not come to this decision lightly. As with all of our decisions, these orders are based on national guidance, current scientific research, and local data. The evidence has strongly suggests that masks, including cloth masks, can reduce transmission of COVID-19 by preventing respiratory droplets from spreading into the air. The more people who wear a mask, the less COVID-19 can spread through talking, breathing, singing, and coughing. It’s important for all of us, even people who feel healthy, to wear a mask, because people can be infectious up to two days before symptoms begin, and people may be able to spread COVID-19 even if they never have symptoms. These new orders are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

There was considerable thought and many discussions that took place throughout the community before these orders were developed. We have reached out to community leaders and we know there are concerns. We also know that many people have been asking for this order and don’t understand the process we have gone through to get here.

We have seen first-hand that in some cases, people who wear masks face discrimination. In some cases, people of Asian descent have experienced discrimination and attacks for wearing masks. In other cases, Black residents who wear masks have been asked to remove them or treated differently because of racial stereotypes. This is not acceptable.

We also know that there are some in our community that do not have access to masks. We are working with Public Health, Dane County and community organizations to make masks available to anyone who cannot afford or access them otherwise. This takes time.

And we know that some people cannot wear masks because of underlying health conditions. The order exempts people with physical, mental or developmental condition that prevents them from wearing a masks.

It is not the job of individuals to enforce this order. Not all disabilities and health conditions are visible. If someone is not wearing a mask, there may be a good reason for that. You can still protect each other by staying 6 feet apart and being careful not to come in contact with the same surfaces without sanitizing first. If someone wearing a mask causes you concern, please take a moment to consider why that is, and remember that in the era of COVID-19, wearing a mask is an act of care and kindness.

We are asking all residents who are able to wear the masks, because they care about the health of our entire community - of our parents, our students, our children, health care and other frontline workers, and our more vulnerable residents. We are asking everyone to wear a mask because we are all in this together.


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Category: Equity