Milwaukee County committee unanimously approves plan to require masks on MCTS buses

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County's Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee on Wednesday, July 8 unanimously approved a resolution that would require masks for all Milwaukee County Transit System riders amid the coronavirus pandemic. The next step is the approval of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. This, as MCTS officials said eight bus drivers have tested positive for COVID-19.

In Milwaukee County, masks are mandated for county facilities, but that is not the case for county buses. While it is recommended passengers wear masks or cloth coverings, it is not required. County officials said only 30% of bus riders are actually wearing masks, which is why they feel it's time to make this mandatory -- with city leaders across the state, including in Milwaukee, looking at potentially adopting mask policies in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"At this point, the data is in, and we know by now COVID-19 spreads quickly in enclosed areas and places with poor air flow, and from people without masks to people with or without masks," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy.

This particular resolution exempts children under the age of 6 and those with health conditions.

"We don't expect this to be perfect," said Clancy. "We're still going to have people refuse wearing masks."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

All Dane County residents will be required to wear masks when indoors under the first order of its kind issued Tuesday, July 7. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said he was considering at a statewide mask mandate, but after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down his “Safer at Home” order in May, a new one requiring masks to be worn is “unlikely.” The order from Public Health Madison and Dane County takes effect Monday, July 13, and applies to anyone who is age 5 or older. People with health conditions that prevent them from wearing masks are exempt. Masks would have to be worn by anyone visiting another person’s home, but not inside their own residence.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said private citizens might challenge such an order in court, and he feels it should be up to each municipality.

"I would rather have certainty knowing local governments have the ability to put it into effect when it's required that local governments have abilities to adapt to what they see in their general region," said Vos.

In Milwaukee, a Common Council committee will debate a revised proposed mask mandate Thursday afternoon -- requiring coverings for everyone 3 and over when outdoors within 6-feet of others who are not family.

Meanwhile, MCTS officials said the latest positive case of COVID-19 among drivers was confirmed at the end of June.