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Shorewood now requires face coverings indoors. Will other municipalities in the county follow?

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SHOREWOOD, Wis. (CBS 58) Shorewood's indoor face covering ordinance went into effect Friday, July 10.

It's the first Milwaukee County community to mandate masks be worn, and there are questions now about whether there will be a patchwork of orders across the county similar to the local stay-at-home orders enacted a few months back.

The Shorewood Village Board unanimously voted Wednesday to require masks inside public places for those 4 years old or older. But board members said for now, masks will not be required outdoors. The order is in effect until mid-January 2021.

"I'm not particularly fond of having to wear a mask, but because of this pandemic, everybody's got to kind of do what they got to do to slow it down," said Shorewood resident Jesus Quinones.

"I think it's great that they're making it more of a mandate, and I think that will encourage more people that were like not too convinced to wear it that now they're going to have to," said Paige Aschenbrener, who works in health care and regularly shops for groceries in Shorewood.

In Milwaukee, the proposed MKE Cares ordinance would require face coverings inside public buildings and outside for people 3 or older.

"If we were able to do this countywide, that would be much more effective," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik during a special meeting of the Public Safety and Health Committee Thursday.

Kowalik said she would support a countywide mask mandate but does not have the authority to enact one.

"They would have to do it at the local level within the suburban area, which creates kind of like a patchwork type of approach, which isn't ideal," Kowalik said.

She fielded criticism during the meeting from Milwaukee Alderman Mark Borkowski, who voted against Milwaukee's mask ordinance during the committee meeting.

"Why are you not dictating that Milwaukee County be part of this versus singling out Milwaukee and making Milwaukee an island?" Borkowski asked Kowalik. 

He continued, "Honestly, Dr. Kowalik, I don't think you appreciate those of us that have districts that are literally across the street from municipalities: West Allis, Greenfield for me."

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said he has heard many questions about why the county can't mandate everyone wear face coverings. He said it's because the county doesn't have its own health department.

"I know it's confusing," Crowley said. "Unlike Dane County that has a combined health department with Madison, Milwaukee County's health departments are broken down between the city and the suburban municipalities. We have 11 (health departments) across all of Milwaukee County within all 19 municipalities, and so they all can make their own separate decisions."

Crowley said the county announced several weeks ago that it would mandate that people wear masks in all Milwaukee County facilities.

Kowalik said the issue is similar to a when the local municipalities banded together back in March to order bars and restaurants close. That order was signed by each individual municipality, not the county.

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