Despite today’s repeal of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ recent public health emergency order and the corresponding statewide mask mandate, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health urges the importance of face coverings as a key component of health and safety measures needed to prevent spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Based on both medical and public health perspectives, we support a comprehensive statewide approach to the pandemic, which should include face coverings to protect our family, friends and ourselves from exposure to COVID-19. Science has consistently shown that face masks effectively limit exposure and are even more effective when there are consistent and unwavering expectations for wearing them,” said Robert N. Golden, MD, Dean of the School of Medicine and Public Health and Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

A group of pedestrians wearing masks
Participants in a UW Outdoor night-hike wear masks as they walk down the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Jan. 5, 2021. Bryce Richter / UW-Madison

The school joins UW Health and other health systems and partners in the region on this topic, reiterating a statement shared in December by Golden and  Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, Dean of the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine.

“Early in 2020, an inconsistent approach to face coverings across communities in Wisconsin was correlated with higher disease burden. Regardless of today’s legislative action, I urge everyone in Wisconsin to take personal leadership to limit the deadly impact of COVID-19 in our communities by continuing to engage in health and safety measures, including wearing masks,” said Golden.