The Democrat governor of Wisconsin declared a new public health emergency in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases across the state that is centered around college campuses, requiring the mandatory use of face coverings.
“We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially—please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement.
He noted that within the past month, the number of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases surged among younger people. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 have a case rate that is five times higher than other groups, according to the governor’s office.
Wisconsin is now seeing an “unprecedented, near-exponential growth of the COVID-19 pandemic,” rising to 1,791 on Sept. 21 from 678 new cases on Aug. 31, Evers said. So far, about 104,000 cases of the CCP virus have been reported in the state.
Evers declared an emergency (pdf) that allows the National Guard “to assist in the state’s response to the public health emergency,” which includes deploying personnel to help with the Nov. 3 presidential election. It will also “direct all state agencies” to help when appropriate in dealing with the response to the virus.
The order (pdf) also requires mandatory face coverings on residents who are 5 years old and older when they’re inside a building or in enclosed spaces, until Nov. 21. The previous order on face coverings was slated to expire in the coming days. A violation of the mandate could result in a $200 fine.
Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary for the state Department of Health Services, told the Wisconsin State Journal that “this mandate helps encourage good behavior with facial coverings as we move inside and assures a standard approach across our state.”
State Senate Republicans pushed back against the latest order from Evers.
“Governor Evers’ disregard for the state constitution and the role of the three branches of government is mind-boggling,” Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement. “The governor’s order is not valid and is not worth the paper it’s printed on.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos described the governor’s order as “obviously illegal.”
“There is already a court challenge and undoubtedly, there will be more,” Vos said in the statement. “No one branch of government can rule outside the letter of the law and go unchecked, even during a pandemic.”
Neither Vos nor Fitzgerald made an attempt to strike down Evers’s order, however, according to the Journal.