MADISON, WI — Today, the Wisconsin Senate, led by Republicans, plans to vote on a joint resolution to repeal the state’s mask mandate. If passed by the Assembly as well, the joint resolution would become law even without Gov. Evers’ signature. This vote comes just days after the new COVID-19 variant was identified in Eau Claire County. Research on this variant, called B.1.1.7., showed that 15 percent of contacts of people who had B.1.1.7 got COVID-19, compared with only 10 percent of contacts of people with other forms of the virus. At the same time, deaths from COVID-19 are spiking in Wisconsin. In response to these Republican efforts, Dr. Robert Freedland, an ophthalmologist in La Crosse, released the following statement:

“As a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant is now spreading across Wisconsin, repealing our state’s mask mandate would be unbelievably reckless and irresponsible. With the safe, effective vaccine being distributed now, the end of this pandemic is within sight if we remain vigilant until enough Wisconsinites are vaccinated to stop the spread. Until then, masks are the best tool we have to prevent new cases and more unnecessary deaths. Republican leaders should be enthusiastically promoting universal mask usage as we face an even more contagious virus, not weakening our defenses. We call on legislative Republicans to immediately cease their efforts to repeal the mask mandate and work with Gov. Evers to help eradicate this pandemic, save lives, and help us finally return to some normalcy.”

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