The politicization of mask wearing reached fever pitch in Wisconsin on Thursday when the State Legislature repealed Gov. Tony Evers’s statewide mask mandate, only to have the governor himself issue a new one an hour later.
“Wearing a mask is the most basic thing we can do to keep each other safe,” Mr. Evers said in a recorded video on Twitter. “If the Legislature keeps playing politics and we don’t keep wearing masks, we’re going to see even more preventable deaths and it’s going to take even longer to get our state and our economy back on track.”
The back-and-forth was just another example of the partisan politics that have dogged the state during the pandemic, with a Republican-controlled legislature and a Democratic governor.
The Republican-sponsored repeal would have ended a monthslong requirement to wear masks in many settings that came into effect as part of emergency orders issued by Mr. Evers. Republicans in both chambers had argued that the mandate was unconstitutional and that Mr. Evers cannot issue emergency orders indefinitely.
The original mask order went into effect in August, but has been extended multiple times. The political roundelay seems likely to continue.
After the governor issued his new mask order on Thursday, State Senator Steve Nass, a Republican, said that he was drafting a new resolution to block the emergency order issued by Mr. Evers and that he was considering filing an emergency action in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“The rule of law and the Wisconsin Constitution require Evers to recognize the Legislature ended his emergency powers,” Mr. Nass said in a statement. “Instead, Tony Evers now acts no differently than a dictator in control of a banana republic.”
Doctors and health care professionals have widely condemned the resolution, saying that masks are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus until people are vaccinated. They cited evidence from repeated studies.
Without a statewide mask mandate, local officials would be left to choose whether or not to adopt their own, creating a patchwork of policies across towns and counties.
Nine states, including Florida and South Dakota, do not have a statewide mask requirement, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.
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