COVID CORNER: News and updates pertaining to COVID-19
TINA L. SCOTT
• On Mar. 31, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate, ruling 4-3 that he did not have the legal authority to issue several emergency orders that also required Wisconsin citizens to wear masks, regardless of his intentions in doing so. The continued extensions, beyond the initial emergency order, were ruled unlawful. In a similar case, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Evers’ stay-at-home order was also unlawful and that the Secretary of Health did not have the authority to issue the stay-at-home order. In still another case in October, the State Appeals Court prevented Gov. Evers from limiting customer capacity in bars, restaurants, and other indoor places.
In the Mar. 31 ruling, Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote the majority opinion that stated, in part: “The question in this case is not whether the governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully. We conclude he did not.” The decision further said the Governor needs the State legislature to approve such measures.
The Supreme Court ruling does not affect mask mandates issued by local governments or individual businesses.
Individuals within the state continue to debate whether masks should be required and if so, where.
Gov. Evers urged residents to continue wearing masks despite the ruling. Likewise, the Lincoln County Health Department did the same, advising “everyone age five (5) and older should 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, and when social distancing of six (6) feet or more cannot be maintained or guaranteed.”
“Lincoln County Health Department has been consistent with recommending the use of masks throughout this pandemic,” said Shelley Hersil, Lincoln County Health Officer.
• The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) advised that, beginning Apr. 5, all individuals age 16 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated. Nonetheless, due to limited quantities of the vaccine being available. they are urging residents to wait to be vaccinated until after other, higher priority residents have been vaccinated.