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Masks recommended in Lake County regardless of vaccination status

The case count for COVID-19 in Lake County continues to climb as state and local public health officials are reviewing a new federal mask-wearing recommendation for all people in areas where the virus is spreading rapidly, regardless of vaccination status.

The guidance issued Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in response to an uptick in cases in certain pockets off Minnesota where the delta variant is causing widespread rates of infections. Lake County, home to Silver Bay, Finland, Two Harbors and other nearby communities, is among those on the list.

The new recommendation for Minnesota focuses on a total of 14 counties with high levels of COVID-19 transmission at this time. Lake County is the only county in the immediate WTIP listening area to be noted as an area where the virus is spreading rapidly.

The total case count for COVID among Lake County residents is now at 845 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.

Cook County has reported no additional cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. The total case count remains at 175, according to local public health officials.

Seventy-three percent of all residents in Cook County have been vaccinated against the virus. In Lake County, 59 percent of the total population has been vaccinated.