July 16, 2020, statement from the Kenosha County Office of the Corporation Counsel regarding a mask mandate:
In the wake of similar actions in Dane County and the City of Milwaukee, some individuals have asked whether Kenosha County would consider adopting an order requiring people to wear face coverings while in public as a safeguard against the spread of COVID-19.
At this time, Kenosha County does not have the authority to enforce such an order, and, as such, there is not presently an active effort to do so.
What’s different about the situations in Dane County and the City of Milwaukee?
Kenosha County, like many other counties had its authority to mandate and enforce such actions significantly called into question by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in its May 13 decision striking down the state’s Safer-At-Home Order.
The Dane County Board subsequently adopted an ordinance, providing a mechanism for enforcement of such public health orders, enabling the enactment of that county’s recent mask order.
In the City of Milwaukee, the Common Council earlier this week approved an ordinance requiring the wearing of masks in public spaces as long as the city’s COVID-19 health order remains in place.
Where does this sort of action stand in Kenosha County?
Barring legislative action on the county or municipal levels, there will remain no mechanism in place to enforce a mask order.
The Wisconsin Counties Association, which advises Kenosha County and other local municipalities, has a workgroup that is currently trying to develop ordinance language that would be enforceable and in accordance with state law.
Without a consensus on a path forward and absent state legislative action, a mask mandate in Kenosha County would likely be unenforceable.
Comment from the county executive
In addition to the Corporation Counsel’s Office statement, County Executive Jim Kreuser offers the following comment:
“While Kenosha County does not have a mask order in effect, I strongly encourage people to wear one when in public places where social distancing is difficult to maintain. It’s a small price to pay to help slow the spread of this virus in our community.”