Wisconsin will continue to require people to wear face masks indoors after the state saw a surge of new Covid-19 cases.
The order was issued by Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, coupled with the declaration of a public health emergency. The order is effective immediately, according to the governor’s office, and is due to steeply rising cases, particularly among people between the ages of 18 and 24.
“We continue to learn more about this virus, but what we do know is that we are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” said Evers in a news release.
“We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially – please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together.”
Evers announcement came as coronavirus-related deaths in the US topped the 200,000 mark.
Growth of virus ‘unprecedented’
Wisconsin is experiencing “unprecedented, near-exponential growth” of the virus, according to the release, with the daily number of new cases rising from 678 at the end of August to 1,791 on Monday.
That increase has been driven in part by the unprecedented number of infections among 18- to 24-year-olds, who have a case rate five times higher than other age groups, the governor’s office said.
Masks were already required in the state, following a similar order made in July and set to expire on September 28. Though new cases slowed in August, the statement says, the reopening of schools has caused another jump. This order attempts to address that rise, by lengthening the mask requirement for another 60 days or until another order is issued.
The jump has occurred just in the last month, the release said, and six of the eight cities with the fastest rise tend to have University of Wisconsin System campuses.
The new executive order would require anyone age five and older to wear a face covering when indoors or in an enclosed space other than a private residence.
CNN’s Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.