Gov. Evers issues new face mask order

Gov. Tony Evers addresses latest COVID-19 numbers during a Dept. of Health Services' news...
Gov. Tony Evers addresses latest COVID-19 numbers during a Dept. of Health Services' news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.((WMTV))
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 2:51 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Gov. Tony Evers issued a new face coverings order Friday, as he announced he would earlier this week.

Under the order, anyone age 5 or older has to wear a face covering whenever they’re indoors or in an enclosed space, other than a private home, with someone from outside their household. The order defines an enclosed space as any place open to the public that people congregate, including taxis and public transit or outdoor bars and restaurants. CLICK HERE to read the executive order.

The governor cited the rising number of hospitalizations putting a strain on hospitals in issuing the new public health order. He noted that it’s not just affecting patients with COVID-19; there are fewer beds, less staffing and fewer resources available for people who need to be hospitalized for other reasons, like heart attacks, strokes and accidents.

“We continue to see record-setting days of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin. We need everyone to stay home and wear a mask if you have to you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together,” the governor wrote.

Health Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued a statement, “We know hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, which means we will need even more capacity for our hospitals in the coming weeks with our current cases. We need every Wisconsinite to take this seriously to stay home. That is why it is imperative we take action to curb transmission now.”

There are some exceptions, such as when eating or drinking, when communicating with a person who’s deaf or hard of hearing, or speaking to an audience as long as they’re at least 6 feet away from other individuals. The CDC also allows exceptions for people with “medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, or other sensory sensitivities” that prevent wearing a face covering.

The governor’s health order came after he met with Republican legislative leaders -- Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and incoming Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu. It was the first time Evers and Vos met since May. The governor called the meeting to discuss COVID-19 relief efforts “productive.”

“The conversation was productive and the governor expressed urgent need for working together on additional state support and asked legislative leaders to meet again the week after Thanksgiving,” said Evers’ spokeswoman Britt Cudaback. “He looks forward to the Legislature acting quickly to pass additional COVID-19 legislation to support our state’s response to this crisis.”

Vos said agreement was reached on some issues but not others. He did not specify.

“I see today’s conversation as a positive step forward to finding common ground in developing a more unified state response to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said in a statement.

LeMahieu did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the meeting.

The public health emergency order and the face mask order are effective immediately and will expire in 60 days.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.