Dane County’s indoor mask mandate is working.
Wisconsin’s can, too.
The Republican-run Assembly should leave in place, at least for now, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ order to wear a mask when inside most public spaces across the state. Evers issued the order July 30, with the restrictions set to expire Sept. 28.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and his GOP colleagues appear to be doing that. That’s good, because it will help protect Wisconsinites, especially older folks, from the potentially deadly virus that causes COVID-19. It also will allow our economy to stay open, keeping more people employed and earning paychecks.
The state Senate, led by Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, seems more bent on playing politics. Fitzgerald has been talking up rejection of Evers’ order.
But the facts are not in his favor. Dane County’s average daily cases of COVID-19 have been falling in recent weeks, following the county’s indoor mask ban that went into place July 13. Hopefully, a similar trend of fewer infections will occur across Wisconsin as more people dutifully wear a mask when they go into stores and offices.
Masks help prevent people — especially those who don’t know they have COVID-19, because they don’t have obvious symptoms — from spreading the novel coronavirus to others. And it’s really not that big of a deal to wear a mask when you duck inside a building. It might be a little annoying or uncomfortable. But consider the employees at local stores who serve hundreds of customers each day. Those front-line workers are a lot safer if we all prevent our coughs and sneezes from spreading to them when we are buying their products.
Some people in Madison want to place further restrictions on local businesses, which would be a mistake. Little evidence suggests the novel coronavirus is being spread at local shops, thanks in part to so many people wearing masks. Progressive Madison should follow the science, just as top Republican lawmakers should, when it comes to balancing public health with an open economy, which contributes mightily to people’s well-being.
The current Dane County and state rules requiring masks indoors still provide everyone the freedom to breathe without masks when outdoors or in their private homes. COVID-19 is a much bigger risk indoors. So the current and reasonable rules are a healthy prescription.