Thompson on Evers’ mask extension: UW System creating ‘culture of responsibility’ with students

MADISON (WISC) — UW System President Tommy Thompson points to a “robust testing program” as a reason for spiking coronavirus case numbers in Wisconsin.  Thompson issued a brief written statement in response to Gov. Evers’ new public health emergency and mask mandate extension, both announced Tuesday morning.

“Students are being tested at a rate of up to 5 to 10 times the average Wisconsin resident,” Thompson wrote in a release.  “We expected to identify cases and we are effectively managing situations as they arise.”

Evers singled out 18 to 24-year-olds as having a much higher case rate than any other age group.

“We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially—please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out,” Evers said.

Several Wisconsin cities with UW System campuses have seen increases in cases since students returned to campus in late August.  UW-Madison saw a high of nearly 400 new cases Sept. 9, but numbers have fallen since then, according to the school’s dashboard.  Monday the school added 56 new cases.

“The current surge among young people is concerning, but it is important to remember that this increase in cases is not confined to college campuses,” Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said in Evers’ release. “Students come to these campuses from across the state, and we worry about the effect their return from an area with a high infection rate could have on their home communities.

Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor, said the UW System’s own masking mandate coupled with “more aggressive actions as necessary,” were steps in the right direction.

“We have been working to create a culture of responsibility among our students,” Thompson wrote.  “We are gratified to see students responding and cases decreasing on several campuses.”

Evers’ masking mandate remains in effect through Nov. 21.