Mask Mandates and Business Closures in Kenosha: When is Public Health Going Too Far?

Mask Mandates and Business Closures in Kenosha - Wisconsin Family Council

After two years since the COVID-19 crisis began, Kenosha residents continue experiencing a tug of war between public health and personal freedoms. Most of the world is progressively opening up, but there is still a lot of wiggle room involved: how fast should we return to complete normalcy? And, should another spike of cases happen, what should we allow the government to do?

Below is a quick round-up of the latest developments in Public Health around Kenosha.

Mask Mandates at School Overturned, but Still “Recommended”

In late February, the Kenosha Unified School Board finally decided, through a unanimous vote, to end its mask mandate across all local schools. Starting March 28th, the use of masks will be optional and voluntary for parents, students, and teachers alike.

This decision was made after all seven board members reached out to parents and stakeholders and eagerly sought the opinions of those directly affected by mandatory mask-wearing. You can read more about the efforts of organized parents here.

In the end, they decided to open the way for personal choices and responsibility: masks are still “recommended and encouraged” but will no longer be mandatory when attending school.

Kenosha County Public Health will Rationalize Its Contact-Tracing Efforts

Beginning in March, Public Health officials in Kenosha County will stop contacting and ordering the isolation of healthy, low-risk citizens who test positive for COVID-19. Lengthy contact tracing interviews will be discarded, and the office will focus on helping people who are genuinely at high risk of complications.

This measure comes in the wake of new recommendations issued by the Association of State and Territorial Health Offices. It is also in keeping with the desires of many Kenosha residents, who resented the invasive contact tracing process.

But the track record of local public health officials is such that it’s highly likely they will find some reason to reinstate the contact-tracing and isolation policy and will offer Kenosha citizens a flimsy rationalization for their actions.

Courts Curb the Power of Health Officials in Wisconsin

In nearby Walworth County, Wisconsin, the County Board has chosen to overrule Governor Evers’ orders to increase health officials’ power. Now, public health measures cannot be used to control the movement of the population or order business closures.

Residents of Walworth County were spurred into action after Gov. Evers’s public health mandates “gave police powers to health officials.” Local citizens saw the governor’s move as an additional power grab.

The decision to force students to wear masks or determine who can shut down a business – and under what grounds – are major ones. They can shape the lives of citizens radically, and therefore, they should be left to the citizens being affected. 

Local elections are where concerned residents get to say what they want and to ensure their priorities and values are respected. Have you registered for April 5th yet?

Image Credit: Photo by Tai S Captures on Unsplash

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