FILE - mask dilemma

Stressed by quarantine.

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s public health managers are once again recommending masks for some people in the state.

The state’s Department of Health Services on Tuesday said people in the seven counties that currently have high COVID-19 community levels should wear masks inside once again.

“As cases increase statewide, all Wisconsinites have an essential role to play in keeping ourselves and our communities healthy and protecting those around us, especially those who are at high-risk for severe illness,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said.

As of Wednesday, just seven of Wisconsin’s 72 counties are considered to have high community levels. Those counties include Kenosha and Racine in southeast Wisconsin, Barron and Rusk counties in northwestern Wisconsin, and Vernon, La Crosse, and Monroe counties in the western part of the state.

DHS lists 38 counties with medium community levels and another 27 counties with low community levels.

DHS’s recommendation for masks is just that, a recommendation. Wisconsin hasn’t had a statewide mask mandate in nearly two years.

“Residents in counties with a high COVID-19 Community Level are recommended to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status,” DHS said in a statement.

Wisconsin has seen both its coronavirus case numbers and its hospitalization numbers increase over the past month or so.

DHS stopped tracking daily numbers back in April, and now tracks cases on a weekly basis.

As of the last report on Tuesday, DHS said Wisconsin is averaging 2,149 cases per day over the past week.

Wisconsin’s Hospital Association says there are 380 people hospitalized with the virus in the state. That includes 41 people in the ICU. Both of those numbers are higher than they were last week.