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Minneapolis and St. Paul have ended their COVID-related public mask mandates, effective immediately.

Both cities sent announced the termination of their respective mask policies at 9 a.m. Thursday, citing a continued drop in COVID cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. 

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter called the downward trends "encouraging," noting the falling figures "improved our outlook significantly." In Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey said the "the Twin Cities has good reason to be hopeful for the future."

The cities' policies differed slightly in implementation. But broadly speaking, they required everyone to wear a face covering while in an indoor, public space, in the hopes of blunting the worst of the COVID wave.

The two cities revived the mask mandates on Jan. 5, as the metro region remained firmly in the omicron variant's grip. COVID case rates and hospitalizations at the time were surging, with a statewide positivity rate at the time of more than 13%. There were also 1,413 people hospitalized with COVID, with the state reporting more than 4,100 news cases that day.

The most recent COVID update? 4,050 new cases, but just 622 hospitalizations and a positivity rate of 7.5%,

The mask mandates in both cities are now done, effective immediately, though Carter and Frey reiterated the public should continue to follow community health recommendations.

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