Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley is ending the county’s vaccine mandate and masking requirements in all settings effective immediately.
The policy change comes after the federal government announced the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency will end on Thursday, May 11, Crowley said in a written statement.
“Since February 16th, Milwaukee County has been classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having ‘low community risk’. This is by far the longest stretch of low risk since the CDC implemented this system. In addition, it has been more than one year since there has been a local surge in COVID related hospitalizations,” Crowley said.
“The pandemic has clearly entered a new phase and it is appropriate to adapt accordingly. Based on the lower levels of risk, and the knowledge and ability we now have to keep ourselves and the people we serve safe, I am ending the vaccine mandate and Milwaukee County’s masking requirements effective today,” Crowley added.
In 2021, life-saving vaccines became available and were approved for use by federal regulators. More than 2,000 county employees received their first two series of shots administered by OEM. In September of that year, Milwaukee County issued a vaccine mandate for current and future employees, officials said.
The mandate required all employees to either provide proof of vaccination, or to request an exemption based on medical reasons or a sincerely held religious belief. Once again, employees rose to the occasion and over 90% of the county’s workforce provided proof of vaccination. In January 2022, employees working in the highest risk facilities were required to also get boosted, knowing that the vulnerable people they served were most at risk for COVID-19, the statement added.
“Despite the challenges that the pandemic posed, Milwaukee County never stopped providing essential programs and services. Employees demonstrated incredible agility in adapting to masking, capacity limits, teleworking, and the vaccine mandate, among many other changes,” Crowley said.
“The policy change is not a declaration that COVID-19 has been eliminated and is no longer a threat to our community. On the contrary, masks and other mitigation tools will continue to be available for employees and the residents we serve.”