'It is maddening': County, city leaders criticize GOP's efforts to repeal mask mandate

’It is maddening’: County, city leaders criticize GOP’s efforts to repeal mask mandate

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee city and county leaders have a clear message: Masking is effective.

They called the state Legislature's action to repeal the mask mandate "insanity" and "mind boggling" during a media briefing on Thursday, Feb. 4.

"It is maddening to see the fact that the state Legislature has come together to repeal the mask mandate yet has not found ... solutions to support local governments, to support local community organizations to really mitigate this this virus," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

"We're headed into Super Bowl weekend, and the message that's being sent by our state legislature is: Don't worry about the masks. Don't worry about the masks. To me, that's just insanity," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

A handful of municipalities, including Milwaukee, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay, have their own mask ordinances. They will continue to be in place, even if the statewide mandate goes away.

Dr. Ben Weston said as new strains of COVID-19 circulate, health officials have to use the tools they've got to curb the spread.

"There's a few items that are effective: masking, social distancing, avoiding groups and getting vaccinated. Getting vaccinated -- we have supply constraints. One thing we don't have a supply constraint on is masking," said Weston, the director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Barrett said he doesn't believe Republican leaders have given a real reason why the mandate should be repealed.

"Other than: We don't want the governor to have the power to do it. OK, fine. You don't want the governor to have the power to do it, then you do it," Barrett said.

While Milwaukee has its own mask ordinance in place, Milwaukee County does not. The county doesn't have its own health department, so enacting an ordinance is not a possibility.

"We're going to be relying on all of our municipal partners throughout Milwaukee County to figure out what they're going to do, as it relates to a mask mandate and here locally," Crowley said.

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