FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 30, 2021
FROM THE CITY OF MILWAUKEE COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH
On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) declared the new COVID B.1.1.529 variant, named Omicron, a variant of concern because it has a large number of mutations and preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection and spread across the world, including to the United States.
As of November 30, 2021, zero specimens processed within the Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory have been identified as Omicron. However, in anticipation of future identification of this variant in Milwaukee, and due to the burden of positive COVID-19 cases remaining in the extreme transmission category, the Milwaukee Health Department hereby provides notice that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection, should wear a mask at all times when indoors in a public setting.
All masks should cover the nose and the mouth and rest snugly above the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face. This advisory applies to all individuals in the city of Milwaukee over the age of two years who are able to medically tolerate wearing a mask.
This advisory does not apply in cases where an individual is actively performing an activity that cannot be done while wearing a face covering such as sleeping; actively eating or drinking; practicing or playing a competitive sport; or performing, including but not limited to playing music, delivering a speech to an audience seated at least six feet away, and acting in a theater.
COVID-19 infection is transmitted predominately by inhalation of respiratory droplets and studies show that masks and face coverings block the release of respiratory droplets into the environment and can also reduce the wearer’s exposure to droplets from others because COVID-19 viral particles spread between people more readily indoors and when people are closer together for longer periods of time indoors.
The WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised all individuals to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, especially the Delta and Omicron variants, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.