After the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled March 31 to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate in the state, Laurel Dreger of the Vilas County Public Health Department issued a plea to the public to continue wearing masks.

“We are meeting with our local and regional partners to determine the safest way to move forward for the people of our county and surrounding areas,” Dreger said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s decision is unfortunate. We know that masks work to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep the people of our communities safe. 

“Regardless of the decision, we still recommend that wearing masks is an important tool to fight this virus,” she said.

There continues to be cases of COVID-19 throughout Wisconsin, including all northern Wisconsin counties. Dreger noted that there have also been cases of variants which may spread more easily. 

“While there is no longer a statewide mask mandate, it is still the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health to follow all COVID-19 precautions. 

This recommendation includes wearing a mask when in a public setting, enclosed space, or anytime there is close contact to another person outside of your household,” she said.

Health officials explained that everyone should continue to wear a mask. Masks act as a simple barrier that help prevent a person’s respiratory droplets from reaching others. 

“When you breathe, talk, cough or sneeze you are releasing respiratory droplets that can spread the virus. Even if you don’t feel sick you should wear a mask. The virus can spread before someone develops symptoms or even if you are asymptomatic and show no symptoms,” Dreger said.

Dreger reminds the public that following these COVID-19 precautions in combination with vaccination is the best defense available against this virus: wearing a mask, physically distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, monitoring health, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated.

“Public Health and our partners are taking all available actions to prevent the spread of this virus in our communities. This includes vaccination, however those vaccinated also need to follow all COVID-19 precautions while we continue to wait for further guidance from medical experts on how long the vaccine protects you, how well it protects others, and the effectiveness against the variants. 

“Please consider your health and the health of those around you by following the proven safety measures to keep our community safe. Wearing a mask protects us all,” Dreger said.