Milwaukee leaders weigh mask mandate; parents object to idea

Could a mask mandate return to Milwaukee? City leaders are talking about it. 

But a lot of the next steps rely on what comes Tuesday: the city’s 7-day averages of new COVID-cases. Those numbers are so important.

The city releases its COVID-19 numbers every Tuesday and Thursday…

The current city number puts it in substantial transmission, but it’s very, very close to high transmission. And when it reaches high transmission, six Milwaukee Common Council members say the city should reinstate its masking requirement.

Though the health commissioner said last week she had no plans to do that by emergency order but was working with the Common Council — who is on break.

Milwaukee leaders ask: Should they once again require masks?

"Personally, I thought I was done with masks two months ago. Done with it. I don’t have to worry about this anymore," said Alderman Bob Bauman. "And again, it’s creeping back. And I think we’ve only seen the beginning. I think we will see significant additional mandates start coming back into capacity."

Ald. Bob Bauman

Bauman doesn’t support a citywide mask mandate unless the suburbs follow suit.

"Unless you start putting up border fences between municipalities in Milwaukee county, how do you stop someone who is infected and lives in a mask free community, like Wauwatosa, from coming into Milwaukee? How do you stop it? You can’t," he said.

In neighboring Shorewood, village board members weigh their options.

"People will come in and out of the municipality, regardless, people who are vaccinated, people who are not. And of course, we have to protect children and others who are unable to receive the vaccination. So, this is going to be a broader community conversation, one that we need to have, and I hope that we have tonight," said Tammy Bockhorst.

Tammy Bockhorst

But a group of 38 Wisconsin parents write President Biden and Governor Evers urging them not to return to lockdowns and mask mandates.

They write: 

Effective immediately we will not:

1. Mask our children in schools

2. Allow you to use your private sector counterparts to enforce invasive mask mandates on our

children in various stores or at community activities

3. Subject our children to any further local, regional, or national lockdowns or movement restriction

Simply put, these are not your children. They are ours and they too, are Americans with rights. They are our responsibility and our most beloved. They are not yours."

"My kids were having issues with anxiety, headaches and we just felt like it was an unnecessary stressor for them to have, so we pulled them from the school district (last year)," said parent Adrianne Melby of Burlington.

The groups include parents from New Berlin, Hartford, Germantown, Greendale, Menomonee Falls, Franklin, and Burlington.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services echoes the CDC saying masks are a tool in the toolbox to stop COVID-19, including in schools. The DHS says the best tool is vaccination, even as we see some high-profile cases of vaccinated people getting breakthrough cases.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court this year struck down the statewide mask mandate.

But local businesses and communities can still require them, like at City of Milwaukee buildings, where you still have to mask up to go inside.

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