RACINE COUNTY – Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave on Thursday issued an administrative order requiring all persons entering any county building to wear a face mask or facial covering to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The order, which took effect immediately, covers public areas of the buildings. The only exemptions to the order are persons under age five and those unable to wear a facial covering for medical reasons.
Delagrave’s order expands on a May 20 memorandum directing Racine County employees and contractors to wear face coverings within county facilities and workplaces. The new order states: “This policy is in recognition not only that the use of face coverings may prevent the spread of COVID-19, but that individuals in need of critical in-person resources (e.g., therapy sessions, job center, etc.) at County facilities may otherwise not avail themselves of those services absent a face-covering directive.”
Delagrave, who made a complete recovery after testing positive for COVID-19 in early June, has declined to issue a countywide mandatory mask order calling the policy unenforceable.
The county order comes on the same day that Wisconsin reported its second-highest level of new COVID-19 cases – 1,052 statewide – since the state Department of Health Services (DHS) started tracking the disease in March. The single-day record of 1,117 new cases was set on Tuesday. The DHS also reported that 878 deaths had been attributed to the COVID-19 virus.
The Racine Common Council earlier this week narrowly approved a city ordinance that will require individuals to wear a facial covering in most places, indoors and outdoors, within the Racine city limits, starting next Monday (July 27). Mayor Cory Mason and other proponents of the ordinance cited the continued high rate of COVID-19 spread within the city and county.
In addition to the City of Racine, facial covering rules will take effect next Monday in Green Bay, Superior, and Whitefish Bay. Mandatory face mask requirements are already in place in the City of Milwaukee, the Village of Shorewood, and in Dane, Ashland and Bayfield counties.
As of Thursday, 30 U.S. states have statewide mask orders. Three in the Midwest were added this week. Ohio’s mask order took effect Thursday. Minnesota’s mask order begins Saturday, and Indiana will require mandatory facial coverings next Monday.