North Shore Health and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic have a unique partnership, officials say.
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Mask mandate lifted in Minnesota as case count climbs in Cook County

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday that the state will allow people to ditch their masks meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, an announcement that followed new federal recommendations on face coverings.

Walz said he would sign executive orders May 14 ending the mask mandate he enacted by emergency authority in July, although state health officials recommend that people who are not fully vaccinated or may be asymptomatic either get their shots or keep wearing masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

Meanwhile, the case count for COVID-19 in Cook County continues to climb, with eight new cases reported in the past week. The total case count is now at 166 cases among local residents since the beginning of the pandemic, according to local public health officials.

On the vaccine front, 3,668 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Cook County, which represents 79% of the county population who are 16 and older. A total of 3,400 have completed the full series.

Cook County continues to have the highest vaccination rate for COVID-19 in Minnesota, based on the percentage of local residents who have received the vaccine.

Among the recent cases of COVID reported in Cook County was a staff person at North Shore Health, the local healthcare facility in Grand Marais. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with North Shore Health Administrator Kimber Kimber Wraalstad about this news and what it means for the local healthcare facility. The audio to their conversation is shared below.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.