'This Is What We've Gotta Do': What Some Wisconsinites Think Of The Statewide Mask Mandate

Aug 3, 2020

Monday is day three of Wisconsin's mask mandate. The order that Gov. Tony Evers signed Thursday requiring the wearing of masks in most indoor public places statewide took effect Saturday morning. It's been a hot topic before and since.

We took a walk in downtown Pewaukee Sunday and sampled public opinion.

Waukesha County resident John Parsons says he's willing to accept the mask requirement.

The east sidewalk along W. Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Pewaukee.
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

"Nobody wants to wear 'em, but this is what we've gotta do. For everyone's safety, it is what it is,” Parsons said.

Another man, who gave his name as A.J., says he and his family have just moved from Ohio to Sussex. He says wearing the masks is mainly about limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

“If you can make me sick, and I can make you feel sick, why don't we do what we can to help each other, right? I don't like to have to use the mask, but I have to. So, that's what we have to do,” he said.  

Ian Goldstein, a Milwaukeean who was enjoying the Pewaukee Lake area with his family for the day, takes an even more positive view of the masks. He says they're part of trying to reduce the pandemic.

“I work in the food industry myself, and I travel all around the state doing inspections and stuff like that. So, I've been wearing a mask since the beginning. So, it doesn't affect me at all," Goldstein said.

Across Wisconsin, many conservative state legislators have attacked the governor's order, and many sheriffs, including Waukesha County's, have said don't call their office to enforce the mandate.

Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach says the sheriffs' reaction is unusual.

"For sheriffs to say we're not going to do that ... you don't see them doing that when it comes to the speed limit or when it comes to seat belts," Erpenbach said.

Menomonee Falls resident Mark Schlichta is on board with the sheriffs saying not to call them for enforcement of the mask mandate. He says there are "absolutely" times he's worn a mask.

A sign over Interstate 94 near 68th Street reminds drivers of Wisconsin's statewide mask mandate.
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

"If a company says to me, 'Mark, I'd like you to wear mask before you come into purchase an item,' 100%, I don't mind that. But I think we're finding out from the sheriffs it's a very difficult thing to administer,” Schlichta said.

And Schlichta says he wouldn't mind if conservatives follow through with their threats to try to halt the mask mandate with a lawsuit.

"Sue is a big word. But if that's what it takes, absolutely. Unfortunately, Governor Evers needs to be sued on this, and we have to do what we have to do,” Schlichta said.

It's expected that political opponents of the state mask requirement will announce any next step — soon.

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