In hopes of protecting city employees and the public, the City of Duluth will limit access to city buildings as cases in the area surge.
The city in a Nov. 5 news release said it was changing some operations starting Monday, including closing city facilities to the public except for the main library computer center and park building tenants that have written approval.
On Tuesday, the buildings (except the main library and park building) will be closed to everyone except for essential staff.
This is similar to what the city did back in March when much of the state shut down due to the pandemic.
"We will be evaluating the situation as it evolves and will update the community as we are able," the release says. "We continue to urge residents to adhere to state of Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick."
The decision to close these buildings to all but essential employees is to protect the public and not because of an outbreak among employees, city public information officer Kate Van Daele told the Duluth News Tribune.
"We wanted to be a good role model," Van Daele told the paper. "With this closure, we're essentially again wanting to model that behavior as we're seeing community spread increase."
Although the city says the closures aren't in response to the outbreak among city staff, the police department has seen cases of COVID-19. Duluth PD public information officer Ingrid Hornibrook said multiple officers have tested positive, but would not say how many, only that it hasn't impacted daily staffing levels.
There is one police sergeant tasked with contact tracing and following virus trends within the department.
Minnesota has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases this week, breaking daily new case records a few times. On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 5,454 new cases of the novel coronavirus, shattering the previous record of 3,946 that was set the day before. Meanwhile, 36 additional deaths were reported, which is also a new record for deaths reported in a single day.
In St. Louis County, there have been 4,022 confirmed and probable cases among residents and 77 deaths since the start of the pandemic.