Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday he was still considering a statewide mask mandate as the number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 1,000 for the second time in three days.
But Evers emphasized that he believes his powers to mandate the wearing of face coverings are limited due to a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in May that struck down his safer-at-home order. Several cities across the state, including four on Tuesday alone, have issued their own mask mandates in the absence of a state order.
“Frankly, folks can right now put on a mask,” Evers said. “There’s nothing to prevent you from doing it.”
Republicans who control the Legislature, who could also issue a mask mandate, are opposed to such a requirement.
There were 1,052 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the second-highest daily total after the record was set on Tuesday. There have been nearly 46,000 confirmed cases and 878 deaths, up by 13 from Wednesday.
As Evers held his briefing, about 50 opponents of a mask mandate rallied outside the Capitol. Many speakers argued that the government would infringe on their freedoms by ordering masks to be worn.
“We will not comply,” one sign said.
“We just want to be left alone,” said rally organizer Madison Elmer.