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Public Health Madison & Dane County announced a new mask mandate that will extend through Jan. 3. 

Public Health Madison & Dane County has issued a new emergency order, that extends the local mask mandate through Jan. 3, 2022, the health department announced Tuesday.

Face coverings are required for those 2 years old and up in most indoor public spaces. The previous emergency order was set to expire on Nov. 27, 2021. 

The new emergency order mirrors previous orders in the county, with a new addition of allowing people to remove their masks if all individuals in an enclosed space are fully vaccinated. 

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or two weeks after the first dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

A statement released by public health quoted director Janel Heinrich: “We had hoped to not issue any more face covering orders, but in the last three weeks, our rate of disease in the community has nearly doubled, the rate among children is at an all-time high, and in other parts of the state, cases are even higher.

“With the holiday travel season upon us, this order provides more time for those who are newly eligible to get their first and second doses, and for more adults to get booster doses.”

With the holidays approaching and COVID cases on the rise, health officials are promoting booster vaccines, which are now available to anyone 18 and older.

As of Nov. 22, the 7-day percent positive by test statewide was 11.3%. The CDC suggests that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public at an 8% or higher rate of positive COVID tests.

As of Tuesday, 75.5% of Dane County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to health department data — higher than any other county in the state.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said she expects cases to go up and down but never completely go away. Vaccines and mask wearing, she said, are effective ways to slow community spread.

She released a statement that said “vaccines are the best tool we have to prevent COVID illness and severe outcomes, but masks, physical distancing and other tools provide an added layer of protection.”

The emergency order will remain in place in Dane County until Jan. 3, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

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