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Area leaders react to Governor Evers' statewide mask mandate

NOW: Area leaders react to Governor Evers’ statewide mask mandate

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Updated: 11:43 a.m. on Friday, July 31

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) released the following statement.

"Republicans in the State Senate stand ready to convene the body to end the Governor’s order, which includes the mask mandate. The Governor has caved to the pressure of liberal groups on this. How can we trust that the he won’t cave again and stop schools that choose in-person instruction this fall? There are bigger issues at play here, and my caucus members stand ready to fight back."

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Posted: 7:52 p.m. on Thursday, July 30

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Thursday's order by the governor has garnered support and opposition from area leaders.

The governor’s order received support from leaders in the Milwaukee area where the city’s mask mandate took effect two weeks ago, but some officials in counties north of Milwaukee were not happy.

County Executive David Crowley says there have only been a few municipalities to pass a mask mandate, but Thursday's order will help to reverse growing case numbers.

“As numbers continue to rise in Wisconsin and more cities add us to their 14-day quarantine order, it’s time that we actually take action to be reversing this alarming trend,” said County Executive Crowley.

“With a statewide order, we no longer have confusion over when a mask is required and where it’s required,” adds Dr. Ben Weston, Medical Director of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Milwaukee’s mask mandate is stricter than the statewide order, it requires people ages three or older to have a face covering and also requires masks be worn outdoors when people are within six feet of each other.  The statewide order, which goes into effect Saturday, Aug.1, applies to people five or older and only encourages outdoor face coverings.

“The more we can do as individuals to bring down the rate of spread—the quicker we can bring life to normal,” said Milwaukee Mayor, Tom Barrett.

Democratic State Senator Chris Larson (D – Milwaukee), says Thursday's order was a victory for public health.  In a statement, Sen. Larson says in part:

“Governor Evers’ action will help Wisconsin reverse recent trends, which have seen confirmed COVID-19 cases climb to over 50,000 deaths to over 900, and has produced dozens of new hospitalizations each day.”

Washington County Executive Josh Schoemann says while he urges everyone to wear a mask, he believes the move was a power grab by the governor.

“That emergency order really gives the governor pretty strong powers and I feel like it’s a power grab that could ultimately lead to things like closures of school or businesses, and ultimately that’s what I’m worried about,” said Schoemann.

Republican State Senator Duey Stroebel (R - Cedarburg), echoes Schoemann’s remarks and is now calling on his colleagues to rescind what he also calls a power grab.

In a statement, Senator Stroebel says in part:

“The data on hospitalizations and the death rate do not justify this intrusion into personal, family and community affairs.”

Schoemann says businesses and people in Washington County were already encouraged to wear masks and physical distance, but the emergency order was unnecessary.

“We already had the Safer at Home order, and we saw things lock down. I’m concerned this is the first step of multiple steps, and the governor, I feel, has left the door open for that.”

While the order is receiving mixed reactions, Milwaukee area health officials say the statewide mask mandate is a critical step, and may help open area schools sooner.

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