Since Saturday everyone in the state is required to wear a mask whenever indoors and not in their home. Following Governor Tony Evers executive order sheriff’s across the state including Burnett County gave a statement regarding enforcement of the mask mandate.
“Gov. Tony Evers today declared a Public Health Emergency and issued an Emergency Order requiring individuals to wear face coverings when indoors and not in a private residence, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order,” a press release stated last week. “The order is effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 1, 2020, and will expire on September 28, 2020 or by a subsequent superseding order.”
Sheriff Tracy Finch posted a statement on the mask mandate on social media which was shared by the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office
“As the Sheriff of Burnett County I would like to put out a reminder for people to take personal responsibility for your health. We are very concerned with the health of our county and would like this pandemic to end just as fast as everyone,” Sheriff Tracy Finch said in a social media post. “My staff has been extremely busy during these crazy summer months. We have been inundated with criminal investigations, drug cases, traffic crashes, burglaries, mental health issues, etc. We do not have the time or staff to directly respond to calls for service for civil violations of the mask order.
Instead of calling 911 to report people not wearing masks, the sheriff is asking people to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (715)349-2701, if you feel it is necessary.
Burnett County Public Health continues to monitor the situation in Burnett County. They reported on Monday afternoon there are 21 cases of of the virus with seven people recovering, 1,533 negative cases and 110 cases being monitored.
“Eventually we will get through this. I cannot be more proud of our public, as well as my staff, while navigating through a global pandemic,” Finch concluded.
Other area sheriff offices have been more direct. Washburn County Sheriff Dennis Stuart said the law was “government overreach and unconstitutional on many levels.”
Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak said his department will not take any enforcement action in regards to the mask mandate.
“This order requires every Wisconsinite 5 years or older to wear a face covering or mask whenever they are out in public and are indoors or in an public enclosed space like an outdoor bar or a taxi,” Evers said in his weekly democratic radio address. “While our local health departments have been doing a heck of a job responding to this pandemic in our communities, the fact of the matter is, this virus doesn’t care about any town, city, or county boundary.”
In Wisconsin, there are a total of 55,328 positive cases with almost 45,000 recovered with 9,866 active case. The state has reported 949 total deaths.
Evers continued to explain the importance of the mask mandate.
“It doesn’t care what side of the county line you live on, and frankly, folks, this piecemeal approach is not working. We need to get back to working together statewide to flatten the curve and to prevent the spread of this virus. So I am calling on Wisconsinites to stick to their Wisconsin values of kindness, empathy, and respect and to wear a mask whenever you are out and about,” Evers said. “The most important thing you can do is serve as an example to those around you by wearing a mask or face covering, practicing physical distancing, and following best safety practices.”
Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) released a statement about the mandate. He has previously stated local efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
“I understand the necessity of doing all that we can to control the spread of COVID-19. We all know it’s serious. People have lost loved ones, businesses are struggling to survive and this ‘new normal’ for families is stressful and exhausting, “ Vos said. “Local governments have been responding appropriately and increasing precautionary measures as needed. But Wisconsin shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all mandate. It doesn’t build public support when there are questions surrounding the metrics and the constitutionality of this mandate.
“It’s disappointing that yet again Governor Evers has chosen to not communicate or work with the legislature,” Vos said. “There are certainly constitutional questions here; I would expect legal challenges from citizen groups.”
“The data is what drives our decisions, and that data tells us we have significant community spread in Wisconsin and need to take statewide action,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Community spread means that any interaction out in the community can mean exposure, and because people can spread COVID-19 without symptoms or even knowing they are sick, we need to take universal precautions in order for wearing face coverings to be effective.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the medical and scientific community continues to learn more about the virus, including how to best prevent its transmission. Recent scientific studies show that wearing face coverings is very effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“Staying home, limiting interactions, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands thoroughly are still the most effective ways to stop the spread,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin’s Chief Medical Officer and the State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases. “But we learn something new about this virus every day. A growing number of scientific studies tell us that face coverings, when used correctly and consistently by a large percentage of the community, are extremely effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets.”