MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Tuesday, with just a couple days to go before the return of the Minnesota State Fair, the state’s health department joined the Centers for Disease Control in recommending wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings in high transmission areas.

According to MDH, 98% of Minnesota is in the high transmission category.

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“This is of course yet another indication that the highly infectious Delta variant is changing the game,” MDH infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said. “We are at a point where we have a highly infectious virus causing a lot of illness in our state.”

The recommendation applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

Also Tuesday, the health department released its latest virus figures showing 3,838 more cases and eight new deaths confirmed in the last 24 hours.

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Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 639,059 positive cases and 7,775 deaths.

The latest figures of those hospitalized show 153 Minnesotans in ICU, compared to fewer than 20 about six weeks ago. There are an additional 394 reported hospitalizations for COVID in the state. The figures show an average of 8.5 new daily hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, which is above the line of caution.

The health department reports that the rolling average positivity rate is now at 6%. That’s above the line for caution (which is 5%), though positivity rate’s growth shows signs of growing slower after some weeks of significant jumps day-over-day.

There are also a reported 22.8 daily new cases per 100,000 Minnesota residents, which puts the state well above the line considered high risk. The state spent the early part of summer well below the line of caution, which is drawn at five new cases daily per 100,000 residents.

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As of Tuesday morning, the latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Health showed that about 71.2% of Minnesotans 16 or older had received at least one dose, and 92.6% of those 65 or older had received at least one dose. In total, the state has administered 6,089,217 doses of vaccine, with more than 3.07 million residents having completed their vaccine series.