By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jan 19, 2021 at 5:52 PM

In the midst of continuing COVID cases and deaths, new variants emerging and a sluggish vaccine rollout, Gov. Tony Evers today officially signed a new public health emergency – complete with another statewide mask mandate extension, effective today. 

The order – informally announced late last week but officially signed today – marks the governor's fourth mask mandate attempting to stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state, the first announced on July 30 followed by extensions on Sept. 22 and Nov. 20. 

The latest mandate extension will expire on March 20, 2021, unless superseded by a new order. The govenor's mandates, however, are also currently facing a Republican-backed lawsuit before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, coming after a Circuit Court judge ruled to uphold the mask mandate back in October.

“We’re working every day to get vaccines distributed and get shots in arms to get our state back to some sort of normal,” said Gov. Evers, in a statement. “At the end of the day, vaccine supplies are limited, so while we continue to ask the federal government for more vaccines and faster, we have to keep working together to stop the spread today by continuing wear our masks, staying home whenever we can, avoiding gatherings, and doubling down on our efforts to keep our friends, neighbors, and families safe.”

The rules are in line with the previous orders: All Wisconsin residents aged 5 and older are required to wear a face covering when they are indoors or in an enclosed space – other than a private residence – with people outside their household or living unit. When it comes to outdoors settings, masks are merely "strongly recommended in all other settings" by the mandate when social distancing is not possible.

The mandate again lists several exceptions to the requirement, stating that people may remove their masks while eating or drinking, communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, sleeping, swimming or other health-related reasons.

Those caught violating the mandate may still be fined up to $200.

This fourth mandate comes as the United States today passes 400,000 COVID deaths, almost a full year since the first case of the virus was detected in the country.

A reminder: The City of Milwaukee still as its own mask mandate, with no expiration date set, to fight the pandemic. 

If you're in need a new mask, check out this list of places to find one.

For more information and updates, stay tuned to OnMilwaukee. And keep masking up. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.