UPDATED: Evers orders all to wear masks, but GOP says to expect legal challenge

July 30, 2020


The Brillion News


MADISON —​ Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday, July 30, declared a Public Health Emergency and issued an Emergency Order requiring individuals to wear face coverings when indoors and not in a private residence, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order.


The order is effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 1, 2020, and will expire on September 28, 2020 or by a subsequent superseding order. Executive Order #82 declaring a public health emergency is available here and Emergency Order #1 requiring face coverings statewide is available here

“While our local health departments have been doing a heck of a job responding to this pandemic in our communities, the fact of the matter is, this virus doesn't care about any town, city, or county boundary, and we need a statewide approach to get Wisconsin back on track,” said Gov. Evers.


“We’ve said all along that we’re going to let science and public health experts be our guide in responding to this pandemic, and we know that masks and face coverings will save lives. While I know emotions are high when it comes to wearing face coverings in public, my job as governor is to put people first and to do what's best for the people of our state, so that's what I am going to do.”


Legal challenges are expected, according to Assembly Speaker Riobin Vos, R-Rochester.


“Local governments have been responding appropriately and increasing precautionary measures as needed. But Wisconsin shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all mandate. It doesn’t build public support when there are questions surrounding the metrics and the constitutionality of this mandate," Vos said. “It’s disappointing that yet again Governor Evers has chosen to not communicate or work with the legislature. There are certainly constitutional questions here; I would expect legal challenges from citizen groups.”


Republican State Representaive Cody Horlacher of Mukwonago, called Evers a "dictator."


“I would like to share my extreme opposition to this mandate from Gov. Evers. Although, I am not surprised by his actions as they are consistent with his pattern of saying one and thing and doing another," Horlacher said. "I am enraged with today’s announcement. Wearing a mask is a personal choice. It is simply not the government’s role to tell you to wear a piece of fabric."


Horlacher's words were angry.


"This type of policy will only turn neighbor against neighbor ... A $200 forfeiture is not just. That is real money coming out of real families' pockets all across our state. Many of these folks have lost their jobs and their businesses at the hand of Gov. Evers and now to add insult to injury he is charging them a forfeiture as well. I am irate at the state of affairs in Wisconsin today and I call on Wisconsinites across the state to reach out to their elected officials.”


According to Evers, Wisconsin is seeing new and significant community spread and increase in cases of COVID-19 which requires that we declare a new public health emergency and require face coverings. Wisconsin has experienced a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the entire state, with 61 of 72 counties (84 percent) representing 96 percent of the state’s population experiencing high COVID-19 activity. All regions of Wisconsin have high COVID-19 activity levels. This is a dramatic increase from where Wisconsin was in June, when only 19 of 72 counties (26%) were experiencing high COVID-19 activity.  


The governor's office said the average number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 has drastically increased throughout July, with an average of 556 new cases each day between July 1-7, an average of 764 new cases each day between July 8-14 (a 37% increase from the previous week), an average of 890 new cases each day between July 15-21 (a 16% increase from the previous week), and an average of 938 new cases each day between July 22-26 (a 5% increase from the previous week).


Under this order, Wisconsin residents ages five and older are required to wear a face covering when they are indoors or in an enclosed space with anyone outside their household or living unit. Face coverings are strongly recommended if you are outdoors and maintaining physical distancing is not possible. The order also enumerates exceptions to the requirement, listing activities such as when an individual is eating, drinking, or swimming. Individuals with health conditions or disabilities that would preclude the wearing of a face covering safely are also exempt from the requirement. A frequently asked questions (FAQ) document is available here.


“The data is what drives our decisions, and that data tells us we have significant community spread in Wisconsin and need to take statewide action,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Community spread means that any interaction out in the community can mean exposure, and because people can spread COVID-19 without symptoms or even knowing they are sick, we need t