COVID-19 precautions ignored by dozens at state Capitol hearing

A maskless Wisconsin Capitol adds heat to the simmering controversy over masks. 

To mask or not to task. The question was sparked by a tweeted photo that shows an Assembly committee's overflow room.

"We're just thankful to be in this great state capitol and have a choice to wear a mask or not and to be a body of our own health," said Erin Runk, Wisconsin United for Freedom.

Democratic Madison Senator Melissa Agard tweeted the photo.

State Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison)

"There are countless people that are working in this building, that have to be here. And the behavior people who are coming into the building without masks is putting their lives in jeopardy," Agard said.

Gov. Tony Evers' mask mandate provides a number of exemptions including for health issues -- and legislature and judiciary. 

Lawmakers have fought over their own wearing of masks.

"One of the things I’m tired of is mask-shaming," said State Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma). "There are people that have medical conditions and as result of that medical condition, they are not allowed or required to wear a mask."

"We have this heritage of watching out for one another. And I am fearful that we are losing that," Agard said.

Out of worries about safety, something as simple as taking committee attendance looks different. Democrats will often leave and watch the hearing from their offices. 

Gov. Evers' mask mandate includes a number of other exemptions -- including those giving a media presentation. The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard a challenge to the statewide mask mandate virtually back in November. The high court still has not offered its decision.

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FOX6 News asked if the Assembly speaker or Senator majority leader were going to state requiring masks for committee meetings, but we did not hear back.

The CDC says masks do help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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