Face Covering Emergency Order #2 Issued
On September 9, 2021, we issued Face Covering Emergency Order #2, which continues to require face coverings among people ages two and older when in any enclosed space open to the public where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit are present. Face coverings are also required while driving or riding in any form of public transportation.
Two exemptions were added pertaining to playing wind instruments and presenting or performing. In both cases, certain criteria must be met to remove masks.
Vaccination is our path out of this pandemic, and it is critically important that we vaccinate as many eligible people as possible. This helps form a circle of protection among people—including children—who are unable to be vaccinated right now. You are the best person to talk to the people in your life about getting vaccinated. Our blog post has talking points to help (also in Spanish). Find vaccine near you by visiting our website.
We strongly recommend people wear face coverings when spending time with people they don’t live with while in private residences. We also recommend people wear face coverings outdoors in crowded spaces where distancing cannot be maintained.
Businesses and workplaces can see our Recommendations and Guidance document for additional strategies for preventing the spread of the virus.
September 9 News Conference
Our Director provided remarks in announcing Face Covering Emergency Order #2 at the City of Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s media briefing. You can watch the news conference and read our Director’s remarks below:
Good morning. Instead of starting with a data update as I usually do in these briefings, I’ll jump right into it. As some of you may have seen, this morning we announced that we are issuing a new Face Covering order that will go into effect tonight at 12:01am and will be in effect until October 8.
Face Covering Emergency Order #2 is nearly identical to the current order, which requires that everyone age 2 and older wear a face covering or mask when in any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, could be present.
However, the new order does include additional narrow exemptions for individuals when actively playing an instrument that has a cover over the instrument that acts as a face covering and while presenting or performing a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical or theatrical presentation as long as everyone present is fully vaccinated and six feet of distance is maintained between the presenter and the audience.
Even with these exemptions, we highly encourage all performing arts to consider all the ways in which they can reduce disease transmission, including requiring vaccination of performers and attendees; moving performances and practices outdoors when possible; ensuring spaces are well ventilated; and spacing people at least six feet apart. These strategies are especially vital as the highly contagious Delta variant continues circulating in Dane County. Of 71 Dane County residents who tested positive for COVID in August whose test specimens were sequenced, 100% were Delta.
We are still learning about COVID-19 and its variants. As we discovered late this summer, research shows it is possible for those who are vaccinated to transmit illness, but as we continue to watch trends, it appears that risk is much lower than for those whom are unvaccinated and the window in which transmission could happen may be shorter than those who are unvaccinated.
What we do know is that vaccination greatly reduces your risk of severe outcomes if you should become sick with COVID, including ending up in the hospital or worse. Roughly 84% of those in Dane County who are eligible to receive the vaccine now has at least one dose. Over the past four weeks, cases have been stable among fully vaccinated people but have increased by 16% among people who are not fully vaccinated. 30% of the unvaccinated cases were kids under the age of 12 who can’t yet be vaccinated. Pediatric cases have stabilized over the past month, but are still higher than they were at this time last year. This underscores the importance of consistent universal masking in schools and in childcare settings.
We know public health orders will never answer every question or account for every scenario. However, we are asking that people consider the overall goal of this order and encourage everyone to follow common-sense precautions. Masks and vaccination work to reduce spread of disease.
Right now, Dane County remains in the “high” level of disease transmission, according to the CDC. The number of people hospitalized in Dane County hospitals with COVID is currently about three times higher than the number we were averaging in July. However, cases and hospitalizations do appear to be stabilizing, with our 7-day average sitting around 103 and an average of 74.4 people in the hospital.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Please get vaccinated if you eligible, wear a mask when you should and let’s keep moving our County forward. Thank you.