The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has taken face mask requirements to a new level, mandating that employees wear the masks even if they're at home on virtual meetings, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
This department rule is not backed up by any public health guidance, department officials openly admit that the purpose is to virtue signal that masks are important and the department takes them seriously. From the Journal Sentinel:
Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole reminded employees in a July 31 email that Gov. Tony Evers' mask order was going into effect the next day. That means every DNR employee must wear a mask while in a DNR facility, noted Cole, an appointee of the Democratic governor.
"Also, wear your mask, even if you are home, to participate in a virtual meeting that involves being seen — such as on Zoom or another video-conferencing platform — by non-DNR staff," Cole told his employees. "Set the safety example which shows you as a DNR public service employee care about the safety and health of others."
"By wearing a mask while video conferencing with the general public, we visually remind folks that masking is an important part of navigating the business of natural resources during this tumultuous time," DNR spokesperson Megan Sheridan told McClatchy.
There is no health-related reason for someone to wear a mask in their own home.
"In general I would tie mask use to transmission risk, and that (being at home on a Zoom call) doesn't seem to be a good reason to wear it," said Nasia Safdar, the medical director of infection control at UW Health.
While there's no actual harm to wearing a mask at home for a virtual meeting, not everyone is on board with the idea of doing something just for appearance.
"I'm more inclined to support things that actually do help as opposed to just putting on an appearance of helping," GOP state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo told the Journal Sentinel.
Some Republicans in the state want to overturn the state mask mandate, although it's not clear they have the votes to do so.