Wisconsin governor urges GOP to wear coronavirus masks as cases surge

Several GOP candidates running in state elections and Vice President Pence held events in the state last week

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Gov. Tony Evers, D-Wis., urged GOP lawmakers to wear a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 as the state's number of hospitalization surged to record highs Thursday.

“I think it’s important that everybody wear masks, obviously,” Evers said on a phone call with reporters. “It starts at the top, we will continue to do what we can. Hopefully, our Republican leaders will follow and we’ll make a difference.”

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The state reported 528 people hospitalized with the virus, the most since the pandemic began, and nearly 2,400 new cases as of Thursday, soaring to the second-highest daily count, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

The numbers were highest in the age bracket of 18 to 24, likely attributable to lack of social distancing and flouting mask mandates while going out to reopened restaurants and other public spaces.

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Republicans, who hold the majority in the state legislature, have consistently challenged Evers' mask mandate, which the governor extended until Nov. 21, much to the ire of the GOP.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence visited the state, drawing crowds of mostly maskless supporters with little social distancing measures in place.

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Several GOP candidates running in congressional elections across the state also held campaign events with hundreds of other politicians and prospective voters, posting maskless photos online and otherwise doing little to adhere to coronavirus guidelines.

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"I know we all wanted to get back to normal. But we will continue to see increases in cases until folks decide to take this seriously," Evers said.

In Wisconsin, there is a $200 fine for not wearing a mask in public.