La Crosse public transit no longer requires masks as judge cancels mandate

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — After a federal judge’s ruling Monday, masks are no longer required on public transit. 

It’s been more than a year since public transportation has been following the CDC’s mask mandate order, which took effect in January of 2021. 

 “We’ve been under that same guidance until this morning,” La Crosse MTU Transit Director Adam Lorentz said Tuesday.

The mandate required face coverings for buses, airports, subways and other forms of public transit. Monday night, a U.S district judge in Florida struck down the requirement. 

“As of this morning, the MTU is following its guidance from the TSA,” Lorentz said.

Health officials say people can expect to see policies change as the pandemic continues. 

 “The science of this pandemic will continue to unfold probably over the next 100 years,”  said Bridget Pfaff, clinical operations director at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. 

Uncertainty around the pandemic remains, especially as COVID-19 numbers are increasing again. 

“There are certain areas of the country that are hitting towards the red color,” Pfaff said. 

Masks have been shown to prevent the spread of disease, she said. 

“Masks are certainly effective at containing viral particles from people,” she said. 

Despite the Biden Administration’s effort to encourage people to wear masks in public settings, Biden said the choice is up to the people. 

Masks will be optional for everyone, including workers on public transportation. 

“Some of that is repetitive nature, and some people just prefer to wear a mask, and that’s why we left the option there,” Lorentz said. 

Everyone should continue to practice other COVID-19 mitigation protocols such as social distancing, staying home while sick and avoiding touching your eyes and mouth in public, Pfaff said.

“Do I need a mask on to remind me to do that, each individual is going to make their own choice,” she said. 

And while COVID guidelines are ever changing, there’s one thing health officials say you should be doing no matter what. 

“Wash your hands, wash your hands, and then wash your hands some more,” Pfaff said. 

While cases of COVID-19 are rising in Wisconsin, Pfaff said Gundersen is looking at community transmission rates and community spread rates of COVID-19 in La Crosse County. 

Biden Administration officials say they will appeal the ruling, but only if the CDC plans to extend the mandate.

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