Dane County officials released a public statement on May 18 announcing that all health orders regarding COVID-19, including mask mandates and indoor gathering limits, will be lifted starting June 2. The announcement comes 10 months after Dane County Health officials implemented their first public health order.
According to the statement, officials have decided to allow Emergency Order #16 to expire on Wednesday without implementing a new order, effectively meaning that mask mandates and limits on public gatherings will no longer be enforced by local authorities.
The announcement follows the Centers for Disease Control’s statement suggesting that it is unnecessary for fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks or practice social distancing in order to avoid contracting COVID-19.
PHDMC Director Janel Heinrich explained that the decision not to renew the public health order comes as a result of record low infection rates in Dane County, with new PHDMC data showing an average of only 43 cases per day.
“There is simply less and less COVID virus circulating in our communities," Heinrich said in a news conference.
County officials have clarified that private establishments will still reserve the right to require staff and customers to wear masks and social distance despite their no longer existing any public health orders.
“There may be people and businesses out there who still want mask policies in place after the orders’ end as masks still provide an additional layer of protection,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi stated. “We recommend that businesses take this time to consider next steps while reminding patrons of the current order which remains in place.”
Despite lifting health orders, local officials have issued statements urging unvaccinated Dane County residents to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing.
According to the Department of Health Services, as of May 31 57.6% of Dane County residents have completed their vaccine series and 66.3% have received at least one dose making Dane County one of the most vaccinated areas in the entire United States.
In a press release, Heinrich explained that Dane County’s high rate of vaccination contributed significantly to the decision not to continue implementing COVID-19 restrictions.
“Today I applaud the 63% of Dane County residents who have gotten vaccinated,” Heinrich stated. “This extremely high number allows us to make the decision today to lift our orders on June 2, when we estimate that 75% of those eligible for the vaccine will have received their first dose”
Jerry Halverson, MD, chair of the Board of Health, shared Heinrich’s sentiment, congratulating Dane County residents who chose to receive the vaccination and explaining that efforts by local officials have been crucial for keeping death tolls low.
“Dane County has put in the work, and now we are going to start seeing the benefits,” Halverson stated. “We have saved lives in this county by following public health orders and now getting vaccinated. We should all be proud.”