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Duluth has brought back a mask requirement in its city buildings as the COVID surge continues in Minnesota.

The city made the announcement Monday, with the rule effective as of 4:30 p.m. Masks will be required for all staff and public in city-owned facilities regardless of vaccination status.

"This is not a decision that we make lightly, and is a short-term step which we feel is in the best interest of our staff, their families, and the public," said chief administrative officer Noah Schuchman.

While no city-wide mask mandate is being brought back, officials are "strongly encouraging" members of the public to wear masks indoors and get tested if they have any symptoms.

Cases have been rising in St. Louis County since the end of April, though the 7-day average has dipped slightly in recent days.

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The latest CDC figures show that only 13 of Minnesota counties don't have the highest level of community transmission, with the Minnesota Department of Health currently reporting more than 2,000 cases a day.

While this is lower than the omicron peak seen in January, the number is certain to be much, much higher than the official figures due to people testing positive using at-home tests, and not confirming with a PCR.

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The Mayo Clinic notes that mask wearing combined with other preventative measures such as hand-washing, social distancing, and getting vaccinated and boosted can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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