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Big Surprise! Wisconsin Records Request Reveals No Data On Dane County Mask Mandate Efficacy

Dane County mask mandate sign
Image CreditPhillip Pessar/Flickr

MADISON, Wis. — A public records request in the county housing Wisconsin’s capital city shows what residents have assumed all along: “There are no responsive records” to questions about the efficacy of Dane County’s endless mask mandate.

The answer came in response to a resident’s Dec. 17 open records request to Public Health Madison and Dane County, the county health department staffed by the unelected bureaucrats responsible for issuing non-stop mask mandates in the heavily vaccinated county.

“We made a diligent search for records responsive to your request within our agency,” replied Public Health Supervisor Melanie Jicha in a Jan. 13 letter. But there were none.

The request asked for “data showing disease prevention of Covid19 in Dane County only from Mask Wearing, How many cases of Covid19 Were prevented from Transmission in Dane County from Mask Wearing,” and “Data showing how many … cases [of] Covid19 would exist in Dane County if there was no mask mandate.”

“Public Health needs to show data that the mask mandates are preventing Covid19, How Many cases were Prevented from Transmission and data showing how many cases would exist if there was no mask mandate,” the resident wrote, according to documentation in Jicha’s response letter. “This data should be readily available and quick to give out if Public Health is issuing their mandates on science and data.”

This is what Dane County residents have been saying for two years, but especially since August, when unelected health director Janel Heinrich reimposed the “temporary” mask mandate that she’s extended every month since. It was recently extended yet again to February.

Dane County was one of the most vaccinated counties in the entire country at the time the mandate was enacted, and according to the health department’s own numbers (which they since appear to have hidden from their website), herd immunity here was considered to be as high as 90 percent in October. When Heinrich first issued the mandate in August, weekly average deaths had been steady at zero since the middle of May.

In December, county Supervisors Jeff Weigand and Tim Rockwell held an informal public hearing on the mandate (after the county Board of Health had refused to hear citizens who registered to speak at a public hearing two weeks prior), and more than 180 people turned out to voice their opinion on the mandate, with only five people in support of them. Many attendees decried the health department’s lack of transparency and its unwillingness to release any data on the efficacy of its decrees.

On Jan. 6, dozens of Dane County residents queued up to make their voices heard before the county Board of Supervisors regarding a resolution to halt the mask mandate “until public input and the consent of the governed has been achieved.”

The resolution, which failed on a 29-4 vote, with Supervisors Weigand, Rockwell, Dave Ripp, and Tim Kiefer supporting it, urged Heinrich to “immediately pull back their emergency order, conduct a public hearing and address the County Board to explain the reasoning for an
order and address questions, and seek consensus from the County Board and the general public.”

Though the resolution failed, the Wisconsin Supreme Court finally agreed in December to bypass lower courts and take up a case filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty that challenges the mandate.

The court should not only strike the mandate down, but it should cite this admission from the public health department when doing so. No never-ending mandate from unelected health bureaucrats should be allowed to stand — but especially when those bureaucrats refuse to keep any records on the effects and efficacy of those mandates.