The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the statewide mask mandate Wednesday, but Eau Claire County will remain masked as the County Board’s ordinance will subsequently take effect.
The main difference between this ordinance and the statewide mandate is that buildings with public access will now be required to post a notice at the building entrance that states face coverings are required for entry.
With nearly 11,600 cases and 116 covid-related deaths in the county, the Eau Claire Health Department’s public health specialist, Audrey Boerner, said continuing to wear masks in public is crucial.
“It is still very important to continue wearing masks,” Boerner said, “especially considering that many of our K-12 students are returning to in-person classes next month and we have many people who have yet to be vaccinated.”
But Eau Claire County resident Sabin Pederson said it is time for the mandates to end.
“People are getting vaccinated now,” he said, “I don’t think we need a mandate; I think we need to go back to how our regular life was.”
But Pederson’s views on the mask ordinance are not shared by everyone. County resident Jaron LonCavish believes masks should still be worn.
“I think you should suck it up and just wear them,” LonCavish said, “If you don’t want to get sick or have a chance of dying, which is totally possible, I think you should definitely wear it.”
Boerner, the health specialist, said science tells us why masks are still important at this stage in the pandemic.
“The science is very clear that masks help to slow the spread of this virus,” she said, “Lower spread leads to lower cases, fewer hospitalizations and ultimately fewer deaths. Masks are still a critical part of keeping cases low, keeping people safe and preventing our hospital and public health systems from being overwhelmed.”
Continuing to wear masks will help the county in other aspects as well, Boerner said.
“Lower spread is also good for businesses and schools and our entire community benefits when businesses can be open, students can learn in-person and community spread is lower.”
The county ordinance is scheduled to expire on June 30 but can be repealed earlier via action of the County Board. Additional ordinances following this, according to Boerner, is a possibility.
“It is possible that masking may be recommended after June 30,” she said, “but it will greatly depend on state and CDC guidance for masking, and the level of cases or risk of spread locally.”
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