Remarks from 5/18/2021 news conference, video is available here.
Today, we announced that effective on June 2, all public health orders in Dane County, including mask requirements and gathering and capacity limits, will be lifted.

Good afternoon. It is with great hope and excitement that I am here to announce that we will not be issuing a new order once the current order expires on June 2. We have come to this decision because of our county’s steep decline in COVID activity, incredible progress in vaccination, and the science that shows how effective COVID vaccines are. Dane County is doing incredibly well. We are one of the most highly vaccinated counties in the entire country.  As of this morning--- 63% of Dane County residents have had at least one dose. Our case counts have dropped dramatically—our seven day average of cases per day is at 25, levels which we haven’t seen since last June—even as variants have become more predominant. We have been in a stable or declining state of COVID activity, with daily increasing vaccine coverage, for almost all of 2021. There is simply less and less COVID virus circulating in our communities, thanks to the incredible effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. Our public health order and will end on June 2nd.  At that time we estimate that nearly 75% of our eligible Dane County population will be vaccinated—meaning all those ages 12 and up.

It has been a long road of restrictions during this pandemic—restrictions that were necessary to keep Dane County residents safe and healthy, but that also have been incredibly difficult. The pandemic started with decisions no one wanted to make—to shut down and stay home to stop the spread of the virus. One year ago today, on May 18th, 2020, we put out our first Forward Dane plan—a framework to navigate this pandemic locally. And finally, one year later, we can see the end in sight.

By staying home, social distancing, and wearing masks, we were able to protect each other and care for each other. Thanks to your incredible efforts, we have one of the lowest death rates in the state despite being a population center, and we are now leaders in vaccine coverage. Our community has been supported with a robust network of testing and vaccine providers, as well as an amazing contact tracing team. Although orders will end, these efforts will continue. We will continue to make testing available, support vaccine access, and follow up with people who test positive to prevent the spread of COVID to others.

We hope that one by one, as people continue to make the choice to get the vaccine, we will see the pandemic fade out. As we transition into this new time of widespread vaccination, we are able to move past policy requirements and into a time of joy and celebration--  hugging or sharing a meal with loved ones; listening to live music; or taking a trip. We are not yet back to normal, but we are at a point where we the light is growing brighter every day.

I am deeply grateful for all that the people of Dane County have given this past year. Thank you for caring for each other, for doing the hard work to get us to this place of celebration. And, thank you to everyone who has gotten vaccinated so far. If you haven’t had the chance, I encourage those who are not yet vaccinated to head to the Alliant Energy Center or find another accessible vaccine clinic today to get your dose. Together, through getting vaccinated, we will have a summer of celebration and joy after a long year of isolation. Thank you.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.