ROCHESTER, Minn. - Masks are officially back in Rochester. Mayor Kim Norton signed a declaration of local emergency requiring masks to be worn indoors by everyone.
Right now, Olmsted County is still in that "high" level of community transmission. Public health director, Graham Briggs, said while bringing back the masks will help lower that dial a little bit, the best thing we can do is get vaccinated.
Briggs explained the CDC is recommending that once the community transmission is below a certain level, masks will no longer be needed. "Masks help. They're going to help an addition," he said. "But we don't even really have to talk about masks if everybody is getting vaccinated."
The CDC reports more than 220 new positive COVID-19 cases in just the past week in Olmsted County. That's nearly a 30% increase from the week prior. Briggs said most of the new cases are from unvaccinated people.
Some immunocompromised people are now getting a third dose of the vaccine to stay protected. Briggs explained that should be a wake up call to how crucial the shot is. "In parts of the country now, we're seeing examples of unvaccinated families and things like that seeing loved ones die and seeing people get hospitalized. My hope is that with this uptick that we're seeing in vaccination across the country is part of unfortunately this lived experience that people are gaining now that this isn't a joke. It's real. It does kill people," he said. "And it's really, really important for people to take it seriously."
The only times a mask does not need to be worn indoors in the med city are when you're eating or drinking, you have a medical condition or children under the age of 2 do not have to wear a face covering.
The emergency declaration is in effect until Friday, the 20th. That's when the Rochester City Council will have the chance to vote on it.