MADISON, Wis. (AP/WCCO) — Faced with soaring coronavirus cases across Wisconsin, particularly on college campuses, Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday extended a statewide mask mandate until Nov. 21 and declared a public health emergency.
The mask order, which has been in effect since August, was scheduled to expire on Monday. Evers extended the order even as his authority to issue the mandate is being challenged by conservatives in court.
Wisconsin’s COVID-19 cases have been soaring and the state now ranks third in the country for new cases per capita. A month ago, Wisconsin ranked 26th. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has gone up by 912, an increase of nearly 104%. There were 357 new cases per 100,000 people in Wisconsin over the past two weeks.
“We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” Evers said. “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. 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.”
In total, nearly 102,500 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Wisconsin and there have been 1,244 deaths, according to the state Department of Health Services.
Despite the surge of cases on University of Wisconsin campuses, Evers has stood by university leaders’ decision to open dorms and allow in-person instruction. But as the virus spread quickly among students, campuses across the state have had to quarantine dorms, fraternity and sorority houses and temporarily shift to online-only classes.
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