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Recent COVID-19 surge prompts Gov. Evers to urge use of face coverings

NOW: Recent COVID-19 surge prompts Gov. Evers to urge use of face coverings

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Governor Tony Evers said he is “considering” options for potentially putting in place a statewide mask mandate as a surge in cases continues.

“The number of consecutive record increases in cases have accelerated our consideration,” Evers said during a media briefing.

“Unfortunately, there are some folks in this state that don’t believe that masks help we know they do there’s no question even Donald Trump has suggested that it’s a good idea.”

But the administration’s options are likely very limited because of the state Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to strike down the Safer at Home order.

Evers said he would not hesitate to put a mandate in place if he knew for certain that there would not be a legal challenge.

In a statement to CBS 58, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) reaffirmed his opposition to a statewide mandate and said, “I think wearing a mask should be voluntary and many people are already doing it.”

Meanwhile, bordering states Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan have put such measures in place.

The consideration for a mask mandate comes as Department of Health Services officials said the recent surge in cases is mainly driven by people attending gatherings like parties or bars and young people.

“In fact, in all confirmed cases within the past month here in Wisconsin, fully one-third of them have been people in their twenties,” DHS Sec.-designee Andrea Palm said.

Palm reported 1,052 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and an additional 13 deaths.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin and other states are looking towards the White House to extend the National Guard’s mission on COVID-19 testing. Federal support for that mission is set to end on August 7.

“This is a national emergency and we expect that the president understands that,” Evers said, adding that he expects President Trump to announce the extension soon.

Not extending that mission would mean the state would have to take on the costs of keeping in place National Guard testing sites which have been critical in the state’s efforts to monitor the virus.

“We are getting to a point now where we do have to take a very close look at plan b,” the governor’s chief legal counsel, Ryan Nilsestuen said. “This is something that Wisconsin cannot do just on its own. We need strong federal support and we’re hoping the White House stands up.”

The hope is to extend the mission to at least the end of the year.

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