Milwaukee mulls mask mandate, 'monitoring these numbers closely'

As cases of COVID-19 surge, mask mandates are returning – reinstated in Dane County and Chicago indoors. In Milwaukee, the mayor said Tuesday, Aug. 17 no mask mandate is being put in place, but city leaders are keeping an eye on the numbers and figuring out what's next.

As cases of COVID-19 once again surge across the U.S., city and county officials are trying to stop the spread.

"Our goal is to stay open," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago public health commissioner. "I don’t expect this to be an indefinite forever mask requirement."

The City of Chicago's indoor mask mandate applies to all, regardless of vaccination status.

"We are not here to hurt businesses," said Ken Meyer, Chicago Department of Business Affairs. "We are here to protect all Chicagoans.

Starting Thursday, Aug. 19, people age 2 and up will be required to wear a mask indoors in Dane County, as well.

"We are monitoring these numbers very, very closely," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

No mandates have been issued in Milwaukee, but Mayor Barrett said leaders are watching the numbers. The county is averaging 256 new cases and two COVID-19 deaths a day. The city remains in the extreme COVID-19 transmission category.

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"We continue to see that delta is the vast majority of current cases," said Darren Rausch, Greenfield Health Department.

A mandate must be passed through Milwaukee's Common Council. Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic has proposed an ordinance, if necessary, but the Common Council is out until September.

"Looking at the data, we’ll be working with the Council to see whether that’s a step we should take when the Council returns in several weeks," said Barrett.

Leaders are asking people to do their part to stop the surge

"We still think vaccinations are the path out of this," said Barrett.

Dr. Ben Weston said the county is starting to see a plateau or downtrend, but it is still too early to tell if it will continue. Right now, the biggest message from Milwaukee leaders is to get vaccinated.

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