Opinion – Support the mask mandate (with update)

By Brian Hoffmann
Sheboygan County Board Supervisor
Health and Human Services Committee Chairperson

Editor’s note: The following statement was submitted by Mr. Hoffmann following new developments in the state legislature. His February 2 comments referenced in this statement follow below.

February 5, 2021


The arguing continues in Madison. No matter your political leaning, I think you will agree with me, it is ridiculous.  

Update: My State Senator Devin LeMahieu and my state Representative Terry Katsma have still not contacted me. I wanted to share with them that I am among the nearly 70% of the people of Wisconsin backing a state wide mask mandate (according to a survey by the Marquette University Law School).  

Since my original comments on February 2, I have received a multitude of comments – most were very supportive and a few not so positive. Some of the comments contained some threats.  Whatever happened to civil discourse?  My comments were given before I gaveled our Health and Human Services Committee meeting to order. I indicated it was “As I saw things”.  I was not supporting or arguing against any Sheboygan County Official view on what actions should be taken with the virus at this time. The comments were not made to offend any person or group.   

One of the emails that caused me even more to believe that I am doing the right thing was from an individual who lost her father the day before Thanksgiving to Covid. This same individual also lost a friend for the same reason. The person also included in their email, and I quote “Please hang in there. Be well. Thank you for looking out for us.” 

I cannot count the number of meetings I have attended (mostly virtual) with Medical Physicians and Healthcare Providers, Law Enforcement Professionals, City and County Elected Officials, Interested Citizens, Nursing Home Directors, Elder Care Home Representatives, and so on. What I have taken away from all these meetings has helped me form opinions on what we should do and what we need to do! 

I have been on the County Board for 19 years. I was a City of Sheboygan Alderman for 6 years prior. I have been on the Town of Wilson Board for 20 years. I have no selfish motives. I believe in doing the RIGHT thing and for the good of all!  I am not unique in all of this. As I look at my fellow county board members, city officials, county officials, city and county workers, town and village officials, what a great group of leaders and employees. 

With that being said, I believe we need to do preventive measures: 

1) Madison should quit playing politics with our healthcare. Quit arguing… people are continuing to die. 

2) Use the few tools we have to the best of our abilities: A: Masks, B: Social Distancing, C: Proper Hygiene, D: Getting the vaccine if appropriate. Why is it the intent of anyone to take away the tool of masking. It has been proven that it has been effective. While you may feel it is taking away your right of choice, it is not! Is it a prudent choice to possibly harm others by spreading germs? Is it a prudent choice to steal from someone? Is it a wise choice not to pay your taxes? Some choices can result in bad consequences. You always have a choice! 

3) Compliment those who are wearing a mask. Do not let anyone make you feel bad for wearing a mask. 

4) Patronize those business that are following good healthcare guidelines.  In many cases, it results in extra cost for these merchants!  

I stand behind what I said February 2, 2021. Here are some things we can do with or without Madison’s help. As of right now there are 34 states that have mask mandates, why not us! 

A) Absent Madison’s help I will encourage the County Board of Sheboygan to pass a mask mandate that states: “When in a place open to the public, you must wear a mask.  The exception being a documented health condition that prevents you from wearing one.”  

B) I will urge (not mandate) people to get the vaccine.  

C) I will also work to continue and to strengthen our public information campaign in multiple languages in Sheboygan County.  

D) I would ask all citizens to call their state, federal and county officials to urge them to use all the recourses available to fight this deadly virus. The fight is winnable. The virus will not go away on its own.  


Editor’s note: The following are Mr. Hoffmann’s February 2, 2021 comments (original statement):

We are the guardians of the health and welfare of every man, woman, and child of Sheboygan County.

Let me give you an update – as I see it! The state legislature has backed away (for the time being) on their ill-thought-out plan to get rid of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration, which includes the State Wide Mask Mandate. Their retreat was caused by the realization that the state would lose over 50 million dollars in federal funding.

The word from reliable sources is that the legislature in now trying to figure out how to get rid of the facemask mandate without losing the funding. Those who control the senate and the assembly are saying that the entire mask issue, and all that goes with it, should be decided by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. This is just a sneaky way to sidestep the issue and save face. They know the court is dominated by judges that are like minded.

I have tried to contact our State Senator Devin LeMahieu and our State Representative Terry Katsma.  Neither legislator or their office has returned my call. I should not have given them my name or told them that I am on the Sheboygan County Health and Human Services Board. I guess I am disappointed, because I know both on a professional level. It is also discouraging that they will not respond to a constituent. Shame on them!

The message I want to give both of them is that politics have no place in health matters. We only have a few tools to work with: masks, social distancing, proper hygiene, and the vaccine. Why is it that their intent is to take away one of our tools? Masks serve a twofold purpose. Number 1: protect the person talking, Number 2: protect the person receiving the message. The anti-mask crowd says: Masks are an infringement on their rights – to which I say “you have no right to pollute the air I breathe with your emitted vapors.”

There are 36 states with mask mandates.   

What do they know, that Wisconsin does not know! So, what can we do?

All of us should contact our state legislators and tell them how we feel. Get your friends and neighbors to do likewise. If there is enough noise, they might listen.

Compliment those who wear a mask.

Spend your money at places that practice good hygiene, masking, and social distancing.

Do not let the anti-mask faction bully you.

If the State Legislators outlaw mask mandates, I know what I will do. I will then ask our corporation counsel to draft an ordinance to require masks in public in Sheboygan County. Let us hope it does not come to this. Let us hope that the people we send to Madison will really do what is in the best interest of the people they serve and promote Public Health!


As I sat down last night to write this, the words of an ancient Greek Healer kept coming to mind. He said help your patient in any way you can – but to do no harm. That is the Hippocratic Oath: This is a life and death war. We need to work together to survive. Stay Healthy!!!

Categories: Forum

22 replies »

  1. Sheboygan Beacon, “local health orders must not violate Due Process Clause, ‘no State shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” (Page 25)

    Also note “local health officers may petition a court of record pursuant to DHS. Admin Code DHS 145.06(4) to order a person in violation of an ‘outbreak’ order to comply.” (Page 30)

    They have no enforcement powers. I am referencing “Guidance in Implementing Regulations Surrounding Communicable Diseases” the guidlines from the Wisconsin Counties Association. Mr. Hoffman should know this. Please add this refrence.

    Thw first part of my original comment is common knowledge. We accept risks every day.

  2. I also believe we should quit playing politics with our healthcare. Politics do not belong in the healthcare debate. So when our county supervisor reaches out to use his political position what is he saying? Is he saying those in Madison should not be playing politics with our healthcare? Is it okay to do so at the county level? How about healthcare should be between the patient and his/her doctor? This seems like a logical choice to me. If my doctor thinks I should wear a mask, I will take that into consideration. If he/she proposes a vaccine, I will take that into consideration. When a state or local official is writing legislation or even urging a certain lifestyle choice on masking or vaccination I think they have overstepped their authority.

      • Jim, I’m not sure what you mean by that statement. Maybe you’re as confused as Mr. Hoffmann. Public health departments do not have the authority to force everyone in the community follow any medical intervention. They might be able to force an individual to quarantine but there is a process for that and it involves an examination from a physician. Also, when a threat is widely known, a public place is not obligated to protect the community from that threat. A person who goes out in public accepts that risk. I hope you do more research on this topic since this article is an opinion piece.

        Well said Lorraine! We need informed consent again! A person’s personal, medical, and religious reasons for not wanting a medical intervention must always be honored.

      • The County Board, on which the original poster is a member, surely does have authority to make rules to protect the public health and safety. Traffic laws, for instance. Drug laws too, I assume. I grew up with Quarantine rules in the case of long ago widespread infectious diseases. Covid -19 is a deadly super contagious disease and its symptoms do not always display. This pandemic is OUT OF CONTROL, so demands drastic measures, such as mask-wearing in public, which too many people scorn. As I indicated n a previous post, a mask is not meant just to protect the wearer. It is intended to protect other people from infection by the infected without symptoms. It works best to keep a community safe when everybody complies with national medical advice–which we have–and if there is a public regulation to protect a community. It is because too many people to not have the sense they were born with– or a sense pf personal responsibility for others, that this epidemic has hot been brought under control Millions have died, you should know! Voluntary compliance is better of course but there is too little of that. (I do not need more research on this.) As for laws, we would have a state one which sticks if majorities in the state legislature were not so irresponsible [I refrain from a stronger term] as to try to strike that down for those who prefer to walk around with naked faces at any cost to themselves and others!

      • You may wish to to re-read my original reply and my comment below citing the Wisconsin Counties Association guidelines for reference. Also refer back to Lorraine’s comment describing informed consent. I’m not sure how they would require medical intervention by law when doctors don’t even have the authority to force a medical intervention on a patient. I hope they’re prepared to be personally liable.

        You stated you grew up with quarantine RULES, not LAWS. There’s a difference between rules and a laws.

        I choose not to wear a mask or socially distance because I think this is harmful to my health and the health of those around me. We’ve all heard the unproven scientific theories you follow, there’s no need to repeat them. You are welcome to believe whatever you like and if you think other people’s bare faces are a threat to your health then you can stay home.

        It’s been almost a year so if the pandemic is out of control (I’d like to see evidence of this) then I would assume public health has failed. If they continuously declare an emergency for a year and receive money for pushing the narrative I think it’s time to admit they can’t solve the emergency.

  3. Mr. Hoffmann – you are claiming some of the comments have not been civil. Have you looked in the mirror Mr. Hoffmann – many of your comments you have made to residents of the county are arrogant, nasty and threatening. you know like the one you sneered at the crowd at the court house “Just wiat till you see the next ordinance”

  4. Hear, hear Mr. Voss! Mr. Hoffmann is extremely mistaken to think that county board supervisors “are the guardians of the health and welfare of every man, woman, and child of Sheboygan County.” That’s an absurd comment. Hopefully the other 24 county supervisors are not of the same mindset.

  5. I think Mr. Hoffmann is entitled to his own opinion, however, as a representative for the people he is not. From what was published it appears to me he doesn’t know the difference. I feel the tone and verbiage of his comments is an indication it’s time for him to be voted out of office.
    As far as the mask mandate goes I think it has done little to prevent the spread of the virus. For the average person they are not made with the correct material and are used incorrectly to be effective, since people are always touching their face. Cloth masks what a joke! People that I know who got the virus were following the ‘rules’ and still got it anyway. If the masks really worked then whoever was wearing them should have been protected irregardless of what other people were doing.

  6. Too many people people seem to regard mask wearing as purely a personal matter. Don’t they realize that mask wearing is a communal thing and that the Conavirus can be transmitted by people without symptoms? Which means they can transmit or catch this deadly disease without ever knowing it before they or someone else gets sick and maybe dies. DON’T THESE PEOPLE KEEP UP ON THE NEWS to be informed about what a vast number of people have sickened and died from Covid? Even locally? This is an ostrich attitude. Shameful irresponsibility.

  7. Time for Mr. Hoffman to step down. His condescending attitude has no place in public service and is not the type of leadership that we deserve.

  8. I am an adult, very well educated, and I can think for myself. I wear a mask when I feel it’s the right thing to do. Stop putting people into buckets with your silly identity politics. It’s people like you who are a threat to our health and our liberty. If you need the government to tell you how to live, then go to China or Russia or North Korea or Venezuela.

    • Claudia Bricks, I believe you missed the most important point of the opposition to Supervisor Hoffmann’s post. You and I are will never agree on whether a mask controls COVID-19 or not. However, as a County Supervisor, Mr. Hoffmann’s condescending manner toward his constituents and other residents of Sheboygan County is appalling and unacceptable. Calling people on the other side of an issue is childish and unprofessional at best. I have personally sat at the back of a county board meeting, where Mr. Hoffmann has turned around and sneered at me. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. Please stay on the subject which is the despicable behavior of a county official.

  9. I agree with Brian Hoffman and disagree with the others who have posted about the mask mandate. We wouldn’t need a mask mandate if everyone would just wear a mask! But the truth is there are too many people who DO NOT wear a mask! This is probably for variety of reasons: it’s against their freedoms and no government official is going to tell them what to do, it’s too inconvenient, it’s unnecessary because Covid-19 is a hoax, they don’t feel like it, etc.

    Many of us in Sheboygan County have not lost a friend or loved one to this horrible disease and therefore cannot directly relate to its effects. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Just turn on any Milwaukee or Green Bay TV station at 5:30 or 6 and you can see the devastation and grief many families outside our area are experiencing from this invisible and deadly disease.

    Also, as someone who is over 65 and has a compromising autoimmune disease, I’m not willing to take a chance of getting this disease and certainly don’t appreciate others who put me at risk when I’m at the gas station, or grocery store doing obligatory shopping.

    I’ve known Brian Hoffman for many years and am glad that he has suggested that we be “guardians” to each other, As the biblical saying goes… “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you”. Is that too much to ask?
    I’ve been tested for Covid a couple of times with negative results, but I still want to do my part to protect others and myself by wearing a mask and social distancing. SIMPLE! UNSELFISH!

    I also recently emailed Le Mahieu, Vorpagel, and Katsma asking them to not repeal the mask mandate, but to continue protecting Wisconsinites. All have replied to me about the delay of the vote.

    We are all in this together because we are all residents of this great state and of this great country. I don’t think it’s too much to ask people to do their part and just wear a mask and keep 6 feet away from others when they’re in public.

    Claudia Bricks

  10. Brian Hoffman. , you continue to disappoint most of your constituents! We are capable of making our own decisions. We don’t need big brother. You have been disrespectful to so many people over the last year , whenever the rare occasion came about that someone could get in contact with you . It is now time for you to step down .

    • Absolutely correct. Hoffmann has been in this position for too long, since he has grown such a disdain for the people he took an oath to serve.

  11. I strongly disagree with Mr. Hoffmann’s description of his role as a county supervisor. He was not elected as the “guardian of the health & welfare of every man, woman, and child of Sheboygan County”.

    Per the official guiding principles of the county board, his job includes the following “Maintain a constructive, objective, and creative attitude.” ” Recognize that the chief function of local government is to serve the best interest of all citizens” (ALL citizens, not just the ones who agree with your personal and political views). “Encourage regular communication between citizens and county officials.” “Emphasize friendly and courteous service to the public.” (Not make disparaging remarks about your constituents).

    Mr. Hoffmann expresses his frustration that Rep. Katsma and Sen. LeMahieu have not addressed his concerns. He says “shame on them for not answering a constituent”. Welcome to my world, Mr. Hoffmann. I have sent you numerous emails since last March and have not received the courtesy of an answer back.

    You also insult a large portion of your own constituents by calling us names. “The anti-mask crowd”. You tell us we have no right to “pollute the air that you breathe with our emitted vapors”. I am not a leper, Mr. Hoffmann. In fact, I am not ill at all and no threat to you. If you have a problem, you are welcome to wear a mask. Or two. Or three. What you are NOT entitled to do, is call people names (the anti-mask faction” and make statements that are not true. I do not emit vapors. I breathe as humans were made to do. Your role is to protect my constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Perhaps you need to check your position with County Administrator Adam Payne, County Board Chairman Vern Koch, Health Officer Starrlene Grossman, and HHS Director Matthew Strittmater who recently made the statement that “If the state mask mandate is repealed, it is unlikely that we will pursue a local ordinance or public health order at this time.”

    Noone is bullying you for wearing a mask, even though it has been proven to do no good. Yet you feel you have the right to bully others to force them to do what YOU want them to do. You have been obsessed over implementing this ordinance since Ordinance 3 was defeated back on September 15, 2020. Perhaps it is time for you to step down from your position and allow others to lead by respecting the oath of your office to treat ALL Sheboygan County citizens with equal rights and respect.


    Judi Pool
    Sheboygan, WI

  12. I am so sorry that you feel that people in your community are incompetent simpletons that can’t make good decisions for their own health and the health of those around them. What an extremely low view of people that you feel the need to lord over them your worldview as you demean them with your own moral superiority. When you say “do nor harm” do you get to be the one that chooses what harm is done, and when it isn’t? If a person says that you are harming them with this type of dictate with penalty, do you get to tell them that they aren’t being hurt by you? I would be careful with this, and you should hope that, if this follows through, that you don’t find the shoe on the other foot… (Also, what is your data, and I don’t mean how you started this diatribe with “As I see it…”)

Leave a comment (moderated)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.