Wisconsin government agency orders employees to wear masks on Zoom calls even if they are at HOME
- Department of Natural Resources wants its employees to ‘set a safety example’
- Medical expert questioned the rule which was also ridiculed by a GOP lawmaker
- WI governor’s compulsory face-mask rule does not apply to private homes
A Wisconsin government agency has told its employees to wear masks during Zoom calls – even if they are at home.
The Department of Natural Resources wants its workers to ‘set a safety example’ which ‘shows you care about the safety and health of others’, according to the Journal-Sentinel in Madison.
However, a University of Wisconsin expert has questioned the move and a Republican state legislator mocked it as ‘just putting on an appearance of helping’.
Wisconsin’s governor last month imposed a face-mask order for enclosed spaces – but it does not apply to private residences.
Wisconsin governor Tony Evers (pictured) has made masks compulsory in indoor spaces – but the rule does not apply to private residences
The Zoom instruction was sent out in a July 31 email by natural resources secretary Preston Cole which said masks were compulsory at DNR facilities.
‘Also, wear your mask, even if you are home, to participate in a virtual meeting that involves being seen — such as on Zoom or another video-conferencing platform — by non-DNR staff,’ Cole said.
‘Set the safety example which shows you as a DNR public service employee care about the safety and health of others.’
Nasia Safdar, an infection control expert at the University of Wisconsin, said masks at home were only necessary in very limited cirumstances.
These might include another person in the house having Covid-19 – but otherwise there is no reason to wear a mask at home, she said.
In other cases, there is no reason to wear a mask at home, she said.
GOP state lawmaker Joe Sanfelippo said he agreed with wearing masks in public but ridiculed the masks-at-home initiative.
‘I’m more inclined to support things that actually do help as opposed to just putting on an appearance of helping,’ he said.
Wisconsin has suffered 62,263 cases of coronavirus and 1,011 deaths, according to the state’s health department (its daily cases are shown on this chart)
Wisconsin governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed an emergency order on July 30 making masks compulsory in indoor spaces.
The rule applies when ‘the individual is indoors or in an enclosed space, other than at a private residence’.
Face coverings are also recommended outdoors ‘when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing’, but not compulsory.
Breaking the rules could lead to a $200 fine, although there are exceptions for young children and people with other medical conditions.
Wisconsin has suffered 62,263 cases of coronavirus and 1,011 deaths, according to the state’s health department.
Health officials say they have carried out more than a million tests in Wisconsin since the epidemic began.
The state is averaging 760 new cases per day with some days seeing spikes of more than 1,000 new infections.
Last Saturday saw a new record of 1,165 new cases in Wisconsin and the proportion of tests that come back positive has risen since mid-July.