LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - With Wisconsin's mask mandate going into effect on Saturday, medical experts are speaking out about the importance of wearing a mask.
Dr. Jeff Pothof of UW Health told News 19 that now is a critical time to wear a mask as case counts and deaths continue to grow throughout the state and country.
"Some people would say, "Statewide mandate, that's too much. We should let each municipality and county decide for themselves," and to that, I would say that's exactly what we've done for the past few months, and we are performing worse than any other state in the upper Midwest," said Pothof.
Recent studies show that masks are an effective tool in helping to slow the spread of the virus. Dr. Pothof referenced statistics from both before and after Dane County implemented their county mask mandate.
"Starting on July 23, we started seeing a significant reduction in percent positive cases per day," said Dr. Pothof. "Some of our most recent data has percent positive cases in Dane County at 2.9 percent. The rest of the state is at 7 percent."
Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature are critical of Governor Evers' mask mandate and argue that the situation differs throughout the state.
“Individuals and businesses have been free to make the decisions about masks that are right for them,” said State Senator Patrick Testin in a news release. “The Governor’s one-size-fits-all approach treats Milwaukee and Madison the same as Wautoma and Arpin. That's a misguided and heavy-handed approach that I simply don’t support.”
Dr. Pothof argues that people need to put the politics aside and come together in order to help reduce the pandemic in Wisconsin.
"Whether you’re a republican or democrat, it needs to not be about whether I’m strong or whether I value my freedoms or not," said Dr. Pothof. "What this really needs to be is a sign of solidarity that we as Americans are going to band together and beat this thing."