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Thursday, October 21, 2021
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Board of Health opposes a county resolution to pause mask mandate

Supervisor Jeff Weigand wants community input; the Board of Health says the extra time would sacrifice public safety.

On Thursday, Dane County’s Board of Health responded to a resolution proposed by Dane County’s Board Supervisor Jeff Weigand, which called for an immediate end to the current indoor mask mandate. 

In his resolution, Weigard asks the Director of Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC), Janel Heinrich, to repeal the emergency order reinstituting the indoor mask mandate which was initially issued on Aug. 19 and later extended during this past week. 

“Pull back her emergency order until public input and the consent of the governed has been achieved,” the resolution stated.

Weigand’s resolution additionally called into question the efficacy of masks for preventing the spread of COVID-19 without citing any specific sources supporting his skepticism.

“The scientific facts that Public Health 15 Madison and Dane County reviewed regarding the effectiveness of face covers is unknown,” Weigand’s resolution reads.

Weigand later told the Cap Times that he believes that elected leaders should solely possess the power to make decisions regarding pandemic policy while public health officials should act exclusively in an advisory role. 

“I’m simply hoping for the issue to be deliberated on and decided by the county board,” Weigand said. “The issue needs to be voted on by elected officials.” 

The Board of Health responded to Weigand’s resolution in a statement last Thursday, calling the resolution “extremely disheartening” and a poor use of Weigand’s platform. 

“The Board finds it extremely disheartening that Supervisor Weigand has chosen to use his platform to bring forth a resolution that suggests that public health decisions aren't based on science, facts and data,”  the statement reads.

The Board of Health, which consists of medical professionals and a Madison City Alder, said that Weigand’s resolution promotes misinformation and that the mask mandate is heavily backed up with scientific data. 

“Wearing masks is simple and helps mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This is a proven fact. There is data to support it,” the Board of Health's statement reads. 

The Board of Health acknowledged the importance of public opinion but concluded that due to the resurgence of cases of COVID-19 in Dane county during recent months, a mask mandate cannot wait for public approval. 

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“During an emergency situation, taking additional time to gather community input could result in additional harm... Although we have made great progress with high vaccination rates in Dane County, we are still in an active global pandemic,” the statement reads. 

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