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Rochester mayor declares local state of emergency, implements targeted mask mandate

The new indoor mask mandate went into effect immediately.

Rochester's mayor declared a three-day local emergency Tuesday, instituting a targeted indoor mask mandate meant to blunt the spread of the delta variant.

The Declaration of Local Emergency (which you can view here) requires everyone to wear a mask while in a public, indoor space "where medically vulnerable individuals or children under the age of 12 are expected to be present." It applies to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status.

The policy went into effect at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, and will remain in place until Friday, Aug. 20 at 10:15 a.m.

The Rochester City Council has the ability to extend the emergency declaration beyond that time.

Mayor Kim Norton's emergency declaration cites the "recent spread of the Delta Variant among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated," and the "significant" health concerns tied to the variant.

She also noted Olmsted County, where Rochester is located, now has what the CDC considers high transmission of COVID-19 — the most severe categorization used by the federal health agency.

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The county has recorded 224 cases in the past seven days, according to the CDC, a rate of 141.51 per 100,000 residents and an increase of more than 28%, despite less testing during that time. Hospital admissions are also up 4.17%, 

Olmsted County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, with 65.1% of the entire population, including those who aren't eligible for the vaccine, considered fully vaccinated. And 82.2% of the 12-and-up population has received at least one shot, according to state data.

Sixty-two of Minnesota's 87 counties have high transmission, according to the CDC's data as of Tuesday afternoon.

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