Dane County to require indoor mask-wearing starting Monday.

As COVID-19 spreads through Dane County, Public Health Madison and Dane County orders mask wearing in buildings with people outside one’s household. Photo: goodfreephotos, licensed under creative commons. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

Dane County will require everyone ages five and up to wear a mask while inside any building where people outside one’s household are present starting Monday.

In reaction to the skyrocketing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Dane County, Public Health Madison and Dane County announced a new emergency order on Tuesday morning mandating the wearing of masks that cover one’s mouth and nose for anyone five years old or older who is inside a building where there are people who they do not live with. This includes all businesses, places of worship and public transportation in Dane County, along with other people’s homes.

County Executive Joe Parisi said that such drastic measures are necessary to curb both the present and looming threat posed by COVID-19.

“Given the recent rapid increases in cases in our county—that happened even before school and university classes resume this fall—it’s imperative we take this step now to try and slow the march of COVID through our community,” said Parisi in a press release. “Nothing that’s happening right now is easy, or normal, but it’s what we must do – come together as a community and put everything we have into keeping one another safe.” 

The order carves out exceptions for persons with disabilities or who would be endangered by wearing a mask at their job. 

Additionally, the order sets up certain circumstances for when it is ok to temporarily remove one’s mask while indoors, which include eating, drinking, receiving a service that requires mask-removal and communicating with someone who is hard of hearing among others. 

According to Public Health Madison and Dane County, individuals do not necessarily have to wear surgical-grade masks or N95 masks to comply with this order. Bandannas, scarves and other sewn or homemade face coverings will suffice, as long as they cover one’s nose and mouth. 

The CDC recommends mask-wearing as an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with recent research suggesting that homemade masks can block over 95% of airborne COVID-19 particles. 

According to Public Health Madison and Dane County, there have been 2,510 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dane County, a nearly 500-case increase over one week. 

The order will go into effect this Monday, July 13, at 8:00 A.M.