The statewide mask mandate was supposed to end on Saturday, but Evers said he is extending the state’s emergency declaration since coronavirus cases are beginning to rise again.
“I learned last week that the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that if we continue on the path we are on, Wisconsin could see 5,000 deaths by the end of this calendar year,” he said during a press conference. “This is not something happening someplace else, to somebody else.”
A Wisconsin judge upheld Evers’s mask mandate in October, but several residents and conservative groups have challenged its legality.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is considering the case right now.
But Evers said state Republicans must abandon these legal efforts and support him completely.
“As many of you also know, our current public health emergency and our face coverings order are being challenged in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Republicans in the legislature support this effort,” he argued. “That’s why today I am also once again calling on Republicans to withdraw their support for this lawsuit and to publicly support our new public health emergency and face coverings order. It is time, folks. We do not get any do overs, here. Enough games. We need you to join the cause and we need you to start today.”
Rick Esenbberg, founder of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, said it is important that Evers’s mask mandate be struck down because it is “dangerous” to “interpret the law in a way which permits the governor to rule by decree.”
Evers has also supported health officials’ attempts to force people to stay home for the holidays.
“Don’t have holiday gatherings,” said Health Services Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. “It’s not worth the risk.”