MADISON - The science is in: masks work.
Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, experts were divided. Some advised wearing masks only when showing symptoms. Others questioned whether or not masks helped stop the spread at all. With success around the world, UW Health's Chief Utility Officer, Dr. Jeff Pothof thinks the mask mandate will work.
He says that the mandate put in place in Dane County shows masks work here in Wisconsin too.
"Now we even have evidence within the State of Wisconsin that if everyone masks up when they're in public, we can flatten the curve and decrease transmission of this virus," said Dr. Pothof.
"I can't help but think that's some of the calculus that went into the idea that we should do this statewide."
The executive order issued Thursday did cite Wisconsin's climbing COVID cases as part of the mandate's rationale. Data from the CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services was included. You can find Executive Order #82 and Emergency Order #1 in whole online.
Experts warn the real danger of COVID-19 isn't in its basic mortality rate.
"It's not that I get COVID and I die or make it. It's 'if I get COVID, I have a chance of dying that's small but I also have a chance of having lifelong disability and having to deal with that every day from now on," says Dr. Pothof.
Cities were the first hotspots and Dr. Pothof worries that may lull rural regions into a false sense of security.
"People think that it's the Milwaukees and the Madisons and once you're out of those cities [COVID-19 is] not such a big deal. The current data isn't supporting that as strongly. It's actually supporting that we're having increased cases in some of our rural areas," says Dr. Pothof.
The mask mandate goes into effect August 1st at 12:01AM.