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With hospitalizations near record highs, capacity at a perilous low and dozens of COVID deaths being reported every day, Minnesota's health commissioner issued a reminder Wednesday to the state's residents.

"At the rate of transmission we are seeing everywhere in the state, everyone — from residents of Apple Valley to Roseau to Zumbrota — really should be wearing a mask in public indoor settings," Jan Malcolm said during an afternoon media call.

Malcolm cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, which shows all 87 Minnesota counties with high or substantial levels of community transmission. In these areas, the CDC recommends every person, whether vaccinated or not, wear a face covering while in public, indoor spaces.

The county-by-county transmission rate. Red is high, orange is substantial.

The county-by-county transmission rate. Red is high, orange is substantial.

"Our state is still pretty firmly in the grip of the delta wave," Malcolm said, emphasizing the need for vaccinations first and foremost. But she also highlighted the importance of still utilizing multiple layers of protection — something that "quite frankly we've gotten a little bit lax on."

"I've had just a number of people in the last few days say, 'Gee I was in Chicago' or 'I was in DC' or 'I was here or there,' and there's a lot more mask wearing there than there is here. And why is that?" said Malcolm. 

Related: Cook County registers its first COVID-19 death of the pandemic

"Certainly we're all tired of the pandemic," she said, adding she wishes she could answer why there has been a drop-off in mask wearing.

The use of face coverings across the U.S. has waned compared to earlier this year. According to YouGov polling, about 4 in every 5 Americans said they wore a face mask while in public as of early 2021. That number plummeted to about 50% in July, but has risen to about 60% over the past two months.

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