Dane County’s local COVID-19 mask order will remain in effect at least until May 18 as officials review new guidance from the the Centers for Disease Control that loosened masking rules for vaccinated people.
People who are fully vaccinated — those who are two weeks past their second dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot — can stop wearing masks in most indoor and outdoor settings, according to new CDC guidance.
“If you are fully vaccinated you can start doing the things you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced Thursday. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Walensky pointed to studies that demonstrate the authorized vaccines are more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, hospitalization and death.
Vaccinated people should still wear masks and keep six feet of distance between themselves and others not from their household when seeing a doctor, going to a hospital or visiting a long-term care facility. Also, masks should be worn when taking public transportation and when in prisons, jails or homeless shelters.
But the CDC does recognize that some places, like Dane County, may have more strict rules in place locally.
PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich said in an emailed statement Thursday that the agency is reviewing the latest CDC guidance and evaluating existing local orders. Heinrich said PHMDC plans to have an update May 18. Public Health has been issuing a new order at the beginning of each month.
“People who are vaccinated can be confident that their choice to roll up their sleeve has not only helped protect them and their loved ones, but has also helped our community reopen safely,” Heinrich said.
Until Public Health makes any changes, Dane County residents must follow rules outlined in the current order.
Public Health Madison & Dane County’s current order, with some exceptions, requires face coverings indoors, when waiting to enter a building and in vehicles with people from different households or living units. PHMDC recommends people wear them outdoors, especially when six feet of social distancing can’t be maintained.
Dane County’s face mask rules are less restrictive for fully vaccinated people. They do not need to wear a mask if they’re inside with others who are all fully vaccinated.
Also, fully vaccinated people can forgo a face covering when they are with people from another household who are not fully vaccinated and are not at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 and do not live with anyone who is not fully vaccinated and at an increased risk.
Wisconsin hasn’t had any statewide COVID regulations in place since the state Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled at the end of March that Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate and underlying public health emergency declaration were unlawful.
Local directives, including PHMDC’s mask mandate and broader emergency order, were untouched by the move.
Almost two months before the court’s ruling, legislative Republicans had passed a resolution ending the face mask requirement. But Evers at the time quickly reinstated it.
The updated CDC guidance this week comes after an advisory panel signed off on vaccinating 12- to 15-year olds, a practice that began in Wisconsin Thursday. Those individuals are only eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
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