News Release

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations that were issued on July 27, 2021. The new recommendations, which are based on the most up-to-date information about the Delta variant of COVID-19, will be reflected in all DHS guidance. The Delta variant is highly infectious and is spreading more quickly than any other strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Wisconsin’s 7-day average for new confirmed and probable cases has been trending upward,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “We are concerned with this trajectory along with the increasing proportion of sequenced SARS-CoV-2 specimens that are the Delta variant.”

First and foremost, the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. From January 1, 2021 through July 22, 2021, over 98 percent of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin occurred among people who were not fully vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in communities. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue wearing a mask until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. Data demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant. Past infection with COVID-19 does not assure protection from the Delta variant, so people who have had past COVID-19 infection are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. High vaccination coverage will not only reduce the spread of the virus, but also help prevent new, and possibly more concerning, variants from emerging. Vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community.

While vaccination remains the top defense against the Delta variant, the CDC guidance also focuses on additional strategies that will provide additional protection against the spread of the virus. Because science has shown that wearing a mask over your nose and mouth can help prevent transmission of the respiratory droplets and aerosols that spread COVID-19, wearing a mask is now recommended in the following indoor settings:

  • All teachers, staff, students, and visitors of K-12 schools should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
  • Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, who lives in areas with substantial and high transmission as noted on this CDC map (orange counties represent substantial transmission and red counties represent high transmission) should wear masks in public indoor settings.

DHS encourages local leaders to look at CDC’s classifications of community transmission in their counties to make decisions on mask guidance for their communities. DHS data, including the COVID-19 Disease Activity dashboard and COVID-19 cases and deaths maps, provide additional context on COVID-19 activity in Wisconsin’s local regions.

“As COVID-19 cases climb, and the Delta variant continues to spread, we urge Wisconsinites to get vaccinated,” said Deputy Secretary Willems Van Dijk. “We must protect our children as they head back to school this fall, along with all other Wisconsinites who are at an increased risk for being hospitalized from COVID-19. Vaccines and the additional protection from wearing masks are the best combination of tools to achieve this goal.”


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