As COVID-19 cases rise again locally, Dane County is extending its COVID-19 mask mandate into the new year.
Public Health Madison & Dane County today issued Face Covering Emergency Order #5, effective Saturday, Nov. 27, the date a previous order is set to expire.
The new order requires people ages two and older to wear a face mask in most enclosed public spaces where other people are present. It will expire on January 3, 2022.
One rule has relaxed; the new order now allows people to remove their masks if all individuals in an enclosed space are fully vaccinated.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine or two weeks after their first dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said there had been hope that COVID-19 orders could completely sunset in the county on Nov. 27, but said that can't happen with cases rising.
“In the last three weeks, our rate of disease in the community has nearly doubled, the rate among children is at an all-time high and in other parts of the state, cases are even higher,” Heinrich said in a release. “With the holiday travel season upon us, this order provides more time for those who are newly eligible to get their first and second doses and for more adults to get booster doses.”
Dane County has had consistently fewer COVID-19 cases than almost all other Wisconsin counties due to high vaccination rates and masking policies, but is still classified as high transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. On Nov.19, the 7-day average of people testing positive in Dane County was 163 (29.8 per 100,000). In Wisconsin, that number was 3,068 (52.5 per 100,000).
“The landscape of COVID continues to evolve, and we are at a point in this pandemic where it’s likely that COVID will keep spreading in our communities for years, like the flu does. Cases may go up and down, but will never completely go away,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “Vaccines are the best tool we have to prevent COVID illness and severe outcomes, but masks, physical distancing, and other tools provide an added layer of protection.”
All adults who received Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are now eligible to receive booster dose at least 6 months after they received their second dose. People who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are also eligible for a booster dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines.
On Nov. 22, 28% of all Dane County adults who received their initial series had received their booster.
“The best path forward throughout this pandemic has always been and continues to be vaccination, with boosters now approved for all adults increasing the existing immunity,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Because we know how effective the vaccine is at preventing severe illness and death, this order takes that into account, by providing an exception for vaccinated individuals.”
“Keeping a mask order as an added layer of protection is a smart decision for our county,” said Jerry Halverson, MD, Chair of the Dane County Board of Health. “Families may soon venture outside of Dane County for the holidays and will likely encounter areas with lower vaccination rates, so keeping masks on for a little bit longer provides a circle of protection for those who are still in the process of becoming fully vaccinated.”
For more information about the COVID-19 in Dane County visit publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus. You can also follow @publichealthmdc on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.