The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ordered employees to wear face-coverings during virtual meetings, even if they are home alone.
Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole told his employees in an email last month that they would all be required to wear a face-covering after Gov. Tony Ever’s statewide mask mandate went into effect. According to the email obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cole took it a step further and demanded that employees wear masks while home by themselves.
“Also, wear your mask, even if you are home, to participate in a virtual meeting that involves being seen — such as on Zoom or another video-conferencing platform — by non-DNR staff,” Cole wrote. “Set the safety example which shows you as a DNR public service employee care about the safety and health of others.”
Nasia Safdar, the medical director of infection control at UW Health, said there is no reason to wear a mask while home alone. She said the only reason to wear a mask in one’s home is if someone in the home has COVID-19 and lives with a vulnerable person.
“Beyond that, there is not a reason to routinely wear a mask in your home if that risk isn’t there,” she said.
Safdar added that requiring employees to wear a mask while alone indoors may send a message of support for the policy, but it does not accurately represent the scientific reason for wearing a mask.
“In general, I would tie mask use to transmission risk, and that doesn’t seem to be a good reason to wear it,” Safdar said.
Megan Sheridan, a spokeswoman for the department, defended the mask policy. She said the department wanted to set an example and “a very visual reminder to all that wearing a mask in a public setting helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, a Republican, jabbed the department for virtue-signaling while noting that he does support the use of masks as recommended by public health officials.
“I’m more inclined to support things that actually do help as opposed to just putting on an appearance of helping,” Sanfelippo said.
Cole worked under Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, and former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Mask mandates have been a point of contention throughout the country, though several states have made them mandatory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing face masks in public spaces.
Author: Madison Dibble
Source: Washington Examiner: Wisconsin agency orders employees to wear masks on Zoom calls while home alone