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Supreme Court strikes down Wisconsin's mask mandate, but Milwaukee's will remain

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ended the statewide mask mandate and blocked Gov. Tony Evers from issuing a new one.

In a 4-3 decision on Wednesday, the court ruled that Evers exceeded his authority in issuing multiple emergency orders related to Covid-19. Evers had renewed the order multiple times over the last year, arguing that face coverings are one of the best lines of defense against the pandemic.

Writing for the majority, conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote that the decision was not a ruling on the efficacy of masks. "The question in this case is not whether the Governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully," he wrote. "We conclude he did not."

The ruling, however, will not override local mask mandates, such as those in Milwaukee and Dane County.

Federal health officials have plead with the country to continue wearing masks as deadlier new strains of the virus have begun to spread. Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Monday warned of "impending doom," saying the country faced yet another surge if it relaxed precautionary measures too soon.

Although Wisconsin has been vaccinating its population rapidly -- and yesterday Evers announced that all state residents 16 and older will be eligible for a vaccine starting next week -- that progress comes amid alarming reminders that Wisconsin is not in the clear yet. Covid-19 hospitalizations in the state have been rising, with the Department of Health Services reporting 65 new ones yesterday, along with 11 Covid-19 deaths.

Have questions about vaccines?

Wisconsin residents can visit the state’s Covid-19 vaccine options page or call the toll free vaccine hotline at 1-844-684-1064 to learn how and where they can get vaccinated. We’ve also compiled answers to frequently asked questions about vaccinations.