'Protect others:' As mask mandates take effect, officials stress cleanliness, hands-off approach

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed the City of Milwaukee’s mask ordinance Tuesday, July 14, and the mask mandate in Shorewood took effect on Friday, July 10. With the new requirements in mind, health officials are offering guidance when it comes to mask wearing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Milwaukee's mask mandate requires masks for everyone 3 and older inside public places and outside within 6 feet of non-family/household members. Shorewood's mandate requires masks for everyone 4 and older in indoor public spaces. The original draft of the ordinance included an outdoor requirement as well, but after some opposition, board members removed that section.

Meanwhile, when it comes to wearing the face coverings, officials at the North Shore Health Department said this Tuesday:

Kevin Rorabeck

"It's not just to protect ourselves, but it's moreso to protect others," said Kevin Rorabeck. "They are going to not only protect you from having respiratory droplets, for airborne particles to come towards you, and inhale them into your system."

Rorabeck noted there are medical-grade masks, and then there are cloth face coverings.

"Surgical masks are really supposed to be single use," said Rorabeck.

Rorabeck said there are different ways to wash a cloth face covering.

"The CDC actually recommends washing it every single use," said Rorabeck. "The highly recommended one is to throw it in your washing machine with some laundry detergent and hot water."

Rorabeck suggests having multiple options available.

"If you're working full-time and you're wearing a mask in your office, on Monday, you can wear mask A," said Rorabeck. "On Tuesday, you can wear mask B."

When asked about masks Tuesday, Dr. Ryan Westergaard stressed cleanliness and a hands-off approach:

"I would just say consistency in wearing a clean mask, and try avoid touching it," said Dr. Westergaard. "When people touch their masks, that can also contaminate their hands."

"It can be a bit restricting at times, but it is going to help us get out of this phase quicker," said Rorabeck.