Governor Tony Evers has declared a new public health emergency in Wisconsin, and a new statewide mask order, due to recent surge in COVID-19 cases among young people. Eighteen to 24-year-olds have a case rate five times higher than any other age group.
“We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” Evers said in press release. “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus.”
Evers’ office noted that last week, eight Wisconsin cities were listed among the top twenty cities in the United States where COVID-19 cases were rising fastest, and six of those eight cities have University of Wisconsin System campuses.
Both orders are effective immediately and will expire after sixty days or with a subsequent superseding order. The governor’s previous mask order was set to expire on Monday.
At least two Republican state Senators expressed outrage over the governor’s action, and demanded immediate legislative action to rescind the orders.
“A statewide approach to COVID-19 has always been a bad idea,” said Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) “I firmly believe local governments, businesses and families will achieve better results if they are able to evaluate their needs and act accordingly rather than following a one-size-fits-all directive from Governor Evers. The Legislature must convene and rescind this unlawful order to ensure our communities have that option.”
“Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has enabled the continuing illegal conduct of Governor Evers in issuing repeated emergency declarations and a failed statewide mask mandate,” said Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) “The Legislature has the constitutional and statutory authority to call an extraordinary session and put an end to the improper actions of the Governor.”
The leader of Republicans in the state Senate gave no indication that he’s planning on calling lawmakers to Madison, to peel back the mask order.
“The Wisconsin Supreme Court made it clear that if Governor Evers wishes to continue to impose sanctions, mandates, and restrictions on the citizens of this state, he must work with the legislature to do so. That has not happened,” said state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). “Governor Evers’ order is moot, illegal, invalid, and almost assuredly headed for litigation.”