Summer school

First-grader Shourya Kale works on a project during a “Pet Palooza” class for students in grades K-2.

Expect to continue wearing masks indoors until at least mid-October.

Public Health Madison and Dane County will renew its face covering emergency order that takes effect on Friday, Sept. 10. The previous order, put in place in August as COVID-19 transmission rose as the Delta variant became the dominant variant, wasn’t set to expire until Sept. 16, but the new order contains an exemption that allows people to go unmasked if they are actively playing a wind instrument with a fabric bell cover, as long as they meet other spacing and vaccination requirements, a news release from the county states.

“In light of the absence of (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance, and taking into consideration guidance from other communities, this latest version of the order includes a narrow exemption for certain performers while performing or practicing,” Public Health Madison and Dane County director Janel Heinrich said in the release. “We highly encourage all performing arts to consider all the ways in which they can reduce disease transmission, especially as the highly-contagious Delta variant continues to spread in Dane County.”

When PHMDC reinstated its mask mandate on Aug. 19, newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 had risen by 382% from 19 new cases a day on July 19, to 91 cases a day. Trends for new cases are fairly stable in comparison to when the mask mandate was issued, with an average of 92.3 cases a day as of Thursday, Sept. 9, according to the county’s COVID-19 data dashboard.

Average positivity of tests has dipped slightly since the last order, with 3.4% of the test results coming back positive, in comparison to 4.2% on Aug. 19, according to the data dashboard.

Dane County – while being one of the most vaccinated counties in the country with 84% of eligible people having received at least one of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 72.8% of people overall – has 75,000 people who are eligible for vaccination but have yet to receive a dose, according to county data.

“At this point in the pandemic, we all know how to help stop the spread of illness, by getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors, going outdoors when you can, and distancing yourself from others,” Dane County executive Joe Parisi said in the news release. “We ask people and businesses to consider the goal of this order and encourage everyone to follow these common-sense precautions.”

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