Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) on Monday announced a 22-day extension of the requirement to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, but said it does not intend to renew the order after that point.
The new order, identical to the current order, will take effect November 5 and run until November 27, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“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,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “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.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are currently in the process of approving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years old. In a press release Monday, PHMDC strongly recommended 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, according to the press release.
“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, according to PHMDC.
“With the expansion of eligibility for vaccines, the protection in our County is only going to continue to grow,” said Satya Rhodes-Conway, City of Madison Mayor. “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.”