Businesses, city consider changes to mask policies as cases surge

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As COVID-19 cases surge, the CDC is recommending everyone, even those who are vaccinated, to wear masks indoors.

Milwaukee is now in the extreme transmission category and city officials are recommending people wear masks indoors, but there is not a new mask mandate yet.

"We anticipated an increase in positive cases due to the Delta variant but 155% increase in one week is distressing," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson.

Commissioner Johnson did not rule out reissuing a mask mandate as COVID-19 surges in the area.

"Since receiving data earlier today the Milwaukee Health Department has been in discussion with the mayor's office and common council members," Johnson said.

Experts say masks are key to stopping the highly contagious Delta variant.

"Those who are vaccinated with a breakthrough infection can easily spread the virus to others," said Dr. Ben Weston, the medical director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Some businesses are also going back to masks. Metcalfe's in Wauwatosa once again requires employees and vendors to mask up inside.

"Usually the public health departments have been lagging behind whatever the CDC is saying so it’s a little bit of a balancing act as a business," said Lisa Grudzielanek, the assistant director of operations at Metcalfe's.

Metcalfe's also "strongly encourages and respectfully requests" all customers wear masks, but it's not required.

"We are fortunate as a business to have an infectious disease consultant on our team and we work with him closely when we’re making changes and recommendations," Grudzielanek said.

Other businesses are also recommending masks.

In a statement, Roundy's supermarket spokesman said, " “Our current mask guidance requires unvaccinated associates to wear masks and requests that unvaccinated customers wear masks when in our stores and facilities. In light of the Delta variant and updated CDC recommendations, we strongly encourage all individuals, including those who are vaccinated, to wear a mask when in our stores and facilities. We will continue to abide by all state and local mandates and encourage all Americans to get vaccinated, including our associates.”

Health officials stress getting vaccinated is still the most important thing to do because the vaccine will prevent future variants and prevent serious illness.

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