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Dane County

Dane County face mask order extended, with an end date

Public Health Madison & Dane County "strongly recommends," however, that schools continue to require masks among students, teachers, and staff

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Masks

Dane County’s COVID-19 face mask order is being extended through late November and then is expected to sunset.

In a release today, Public Health Madison & Dane County said the current order, set to expire Friday, Nov. 5, will be extended through Nov. 27. It requires those age 2 and older to wear a face mask in a public enclosed space when other beyond their household are present.

After Nov. 27, “Public Health Madison & Dane County does not plan to replace it with any other mask requirements,” the release said.

“This decision comes as a result of decreasing case rates, increasing vaccination rates and the expansion of eligibility for booster doses which will only help strengthen our collective immunity,” Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said. “It is no coincidence that transmission is dropping; it reflects the result of intentional, effective public health interventions and another incredible effort by the people of Dane County.”

However, “Public Health strongly recommends that schools continue to require masks among students, teachers, and staff based on evidence that masking is an effective tool in school settings. One study showed that schools without mask requirements were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID outbreaks than schools with mask requirements,” the release continued.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are in the process of approving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years old, it noted.

“Our main goal with masking guidelines continues to be protecting those most vulnerable to the virus, including unvaccinated children,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We know wearing masks helps keep kids from getting sick in school settings and keeps kids in school. As soon as the Wisconsin Department of Health Services authorizes us to do so, we have the capacity to vaccinate many people quickly and are prepared to get our kids vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Dane County has the highest vaccination rate in the state, with over 85% of eligible residents having at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine protection. Vaccines are still highly effective in preventing severe outcomes from COVID-19.

“With the expansion of eligibility for vaccines, the protection in our County is only going to continue to grow,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “Get your booster dose if you can, get your children vaccinated if you can, and we can continue moving this city and this county forward.”

The case rate in Dane County jumped when the Delta variant became dominant, but is now on a downward trend. On Oct. 4, an average of 147 people were testing positive per day. On October 28, an average of 88 people were testing positive per day.

“We are the only community in the state to add the extra layer of protection of masks during this crucial time in the pandemic, and we are seeing fewer people getting sick from COVID-19,” said Jerry Halverson, MD, chair of the Board of Health. “We believe the steps we have taken as a community worked; by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask indoors, and taking as many steps as possible to protect ourselves and each other, we have made a real impact.”

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