By Shereen Siewert

All members visiting Woodson YMCA locations are required to wear face coverings at all times and in all areas, with no exceptions, organization officials said Tuesday.

The Woodson YMCA board of directors on Nov. 18 unanimously approved the measure, which went into effect Nov. 23. The board cited dramatic increases in both state and county COVID-19 cases in their decision, and pointed to pleas from area hospitals asking for more public support on wearing masks.

YMCA Members were previously asked to wear masks in shared areas and when possible, during physical activities.

Dr. Margaret Anderson, M.D., president of the Woodson YMCA board, said social responsibility drove the organization’s obligation to step up enforcement of wearing masks within their facilities. The change aims to keep YMCAs safe and open while preventing potential community spread.

Case counts in Marathon County and Wisconsin have been on a downward trend for the past several days, but health experts caution that trend may be temporary. Many community testing sites were not operating over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, leading to fewer tests being administered..

“Our hope is by securing the cooperation of all members to continue strategies of 100% mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing, we can be a leader and make a positive impact for the greater Wausau community in the fight against coronavirus,” YMCA officials said, in a news release issued Tuesday.