MTEA statement criticizes Milwaukee Health Department for not instituting citywide mask mandate

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA) on Thursday, Dec. 23, issued a statement criticizing the Milwaukee Health Department commissioner for not instituting a citywide indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. 

The city's health department announced Wednesday, Dec. 22, COVID-19 in Milwaukee surged to new 2021 heights, with 409 cases per 100,000 residents and a 12.7% positivity rate. 

MTEA shared the following: 

“For the last four months, we have urged the former mayor and Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson to issue an indoor mask requirement in the City of Milwaukee. Research has proven, and the Milwaukee Health Department has advertised, that along with vaccination, masking is the best way to prevent community spread of Covid-19.

“While the disease burden remained in “Extreme Transmission” for almost the entirety of the last four months, the Health Commissioner ignored our requests, instead bowing to the pressure of the far-right business lobby who have prioritized profit over the wellbeing of workers and the community since long before the pandemic.

“While she thanked Milwaukee Public Schools for doing the right thing and requiring masking indoors, Commissioner Johnson refused to use her authority to mitigate spread in Milwaukee. As a result of the Health Commissioner’s inaction, rates remained high without reprieve, people have needlessly suffered, and the out-of-control spread that defines Commissioner Johnson’s legacy is reaching levels so absurd that it is has nearly tripled the highest tier on the city’s color-coded measurement system.

“Without any action from the city government, Milwaukee Public Schools students and staff begin a winter break uncertain of how their schools will look when classes resume in January. After another semester of doing their part to prevent spread and keep their classmates, educators and community safe, MPS students would be right to wonder why their city leaders haven’t done theirs.

“Today, a new mayor is sworn in as this uncontrolled spread reaches new heights. While the interim mayor faces a crisis that is not of his making, we hope that this transition is an opportunity for city government to step up and do their part to keep our community healthy and safe and finally bring responsible public health policy back to Milwaukee.”

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