MPS initially announced on March 24 that masks would be optional in its schools beginning April 18. But on Tuesday, a day after the new policy went into effect, MPS informed families that masks would once again be mandatory, saying the decision was made “after determining significant transmission.” of the virus within the city of Milwaukee.
Since MPS announced the intended end of the mask mandate, the 7-day average of new cases in Milwaukee doubled to a daily average of 47 cases on April 15, according to data from the City of Milwaukee Health Department.
The US is currently averaging 35,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, though the daily rate is still about a third of what it was two months ago.
The MPS decision comes as US cities weigh their mask-wearing requirements, particularly on public transportation, after a federal judge in Florida struck down the CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation, leaving it to local officials to decide whether they would enforce their own mandates.
Virtually all Covid-19 cases in the US are now caused by subvariants of the Omicron variant, according to recent data from the CDC. The BA.2 subvariant, which caused a new wave of infections across Europe, appears to be more contagious than the original Omicron variant, but does not appear to cause more severe disease.
As cities and states experience varying levels of cases, decisions about Covid-19 mitigation strategies have largely fallen to local officials and school districts, leading to mixed local restrictions.
Philadelphia officials reinstated the city’s indoor mask mandate Monday due to a rapid rise in cases, making it the first major metro area to do so since the widespread lifting of mandates earlier in the year. The new mask-wearing mandate, which includes all indoor public spaces including schools, was reinstated just over a month after the city removed its requirement in March.
Leaders at colleges and universities in places where cases are rising are also reconsidering mask requirements. Last week, three DC-area universities — American University, Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University — partially reinstated their campus mask mandates, citing increases in cases in the region. Johns Hopkins also cited travel-related cases reported since its spring break.
CNN’s Travis Caldwell, Mirna Alsharif and Brenda Goodman contributed to this report.