St. Louis County Recommends Masks In All Indoor Public PlacesBy WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Officials in Duluth say masks will be required for staff and citizens inside city facilities starting Wednesday.

“This is not a decision that we make lightly, and is a short-term step which we feel is in the best interest of our staff, their families, and the public,” Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman said.

“In addition to masking in public buildings, I strongly encourage people to continue to vaccinate,” Mayor Emily Larson said. “Our kids deserve a decent school year, our businesses need to keep their doors open and our hospitals have to have our support to help them manage capacity and hospitalizations. We all need to do all we can to keep this community going.”

St. Louis County, in which Duluth is located, issued a recommendation Monday that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask when indoors in public places.

“We are as frustrated as anyone, but more than that, we are concerned by this growth in cases,” said Amy Westbrook, the county’s public health director. “We all want to put this pandemic behind us, but the highly contagious Delta variant is demonstrating why it is so important for people to get vaccinated.”

The recommendation came after the county’s COVID-19 case rate rose to the level of “substantial transmission” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. As of Monday, the case rate stood at 54.4 cases per 100,000 residents.

The county said 67% of its 16-plus population has received at least one vaccine dose.

Mask policies are being updated in cities and counties, as well as retailers, schools and other organizations, across the state as three key COVID metrics — positivity rates, daily new cases per 100,000 residents and new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 residents — climbed above the Minnesota Department of Health’s line of caution.