By Shereen Siewert

The Marathon County Health Department on Thursday issued a mask advisory urging residents to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The advisory, which does not carry any enforcement action, was issued on the heels of a March 31 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate. A mask advisory is also in effect in Wausau through May.

Marathon County Health Officer Joan Theurer, in a news release, said wearing masks is an effective prevention measure that helped the county slow the spread of the virus.

“I advise people to continue wearing masks to protect the health and safety of everyone,” Theurer said.

The Advisory follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health Services that recommends wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth to protect yourself and others. Wearing a face mask, physically distancing, limiting in-person gatherings, and washing hands are actions individuals can take to decrease their risk for being exposed to COVID-19.

County health officials say these actions are necessary until the vast majority of people are vaccinated.

Despite the decline in the number of COVID cases in recent weeks, Marathon County and Wisconsin are still experiencing a high level of COVID-19 activity. On March 25, Wisconsin identified its third variant strain of the virus circulating in the state.

The three new strains spread more rapidly and easily, health officials said, adding that the vaccine will prevent a person from serious illness and death.

As of March 31, 2021, 14% of Marathon County residents have completed the vaccine series. Any person age 16 and older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.