Milwaukee mask advisory: 'BA.5 variant spreading quickly'

The City of Milwaukee Health Department has issued a mask advisory for the City of Milwaukee. All individuals, regardless of vaccination statues or past COVID-19 infection, should wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting. 

This, after Milwaukee County moved into the CDC’s "high" level of COVID-19 community spread on July 14. 

This level is based on three indicators: new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, new hospital admissions with COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the last seven days, and percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

This advisory applies to all individuals in Milwaukee over the age of two years who can medically tolerate wearing a mask. 

"The BA.5 variant is spreading quickly in Milwaukee," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson. "Even with prior infection, the BA.5 variant is seemingly more transmissible and more immune-evading. The good news is the COVID-19 vaccine is working to protect against severe illness and death, but masking is an important additional tool to protect against widespread infection."

The City of Milwaukee Health Department says "masking is a critical public health tool and a key layer of protection against transmitting and contracting COVID-19. While different types of masks provide different levels of protection, it is important to remember any mask, worn consistently and snugly, is better than no mask. Higher-quality masks, such as KN95 masks and N95 respirators, can offer an additional layer of protection. For those without access to a higher-quality mask, wearing two masks is an option to increase protection."

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In addition to masking, the Milwaukee Health Department strongly advises implementing a layered mitigation strategy: stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines, physically distance and avoid crowded spaces, improve ventilation of indoor spaces, practice thorough hand hygiene, and test to prevent spread when sick or identified as a close contact.

But not everyone seems to be on board.

At the Sherman Perk in Milwaukee, opinions are served up almost as much as the coffee here.

I’m glad to be able to come here and meet with the guys and not have to wear a mask," said Fred Goldner.

This group of friends is enjoying a cup of joe as the city issues another mask advisory.

"I think an advisory is a waste of energy," said Dick Seelig.

The friends--all come to the table with varying opinions on the topic.

"I will be wearing a mask as much as I can," said Marc Mayerhoff.

The mask advisory comes nearly two-and-a-half years after the start of the pandemic. There is some COVID fatigue.

"You’re going to have more people wearing the mask as this new COVID variant is out, but I think that will trail off," said Robert Meitz.

Some stay vigilant as the new variant grows. Looking forward to staying healthy so days talks around the table can continue.

"Frankly, I’ve got kids who are in their 20s, I prefer to live. That’s a big thing for me," said Mayerhoff.