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Mask recommendation in place for most of northeastern Minnesota

The case count for COVID-19 continues to climb in many regions of northeastern Minnesota, with mask recommendations once again becoming common place for most indoor public places.

That being the case, Lake County was downgraded to having ‘moderate’ spread of the virus for the week ending Aug. 6. St. Louis County remains an area of ‘substantial’ transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The guidance issued in late July by the CDC was in response to an uptick in cases in certain pockets off Minnesota where the delta variant is causing widespread rates of infections. Lake County and St. Louis County were both noted last week as areas where the virus is spreading rapidly. Lake County has since been downgraded to moderate transmission. Cook County is in the same category as of Aug. 8.

However, Cook County Public Health officials announced Aug. 6 that all residents and visitors to the area, including fully vaccinated people, should once again wear a mask due to the delta variant. The county also moved a public hearing about a proposed Housing Redevelopment Authority for the morning of Aug. 10 to the south lawn of the courthouse. The hearing starts at 8:30 a.m. It was moved outside due to risk from the rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus. Also, starting Monday, Aug. 9, all staff and visitors to the courthouse and other county buildings will need to wear a mask in the building regardless of vaccination status.

Down the shore, the total case count for COVID among Lake County residents is now over 850 total cases since the onset of the pandemic, with multiple active cases at this time, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Thirty-eight people have been hospitalized during the pandemic in Lake County and 20 people have died. A significant number of those deaths are related to an outbreak at the Silver Bay Veterans Home in December 2020.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Lake County Emergency Management Director Matt Pollmann about the recommendation to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status. Also discussed in the interview is the ongoing drought in northeastern Minnesota, air quality issues and wildfires burning in the area.