As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Masks Again Required Inside Hennepin County Buildings
Hennepin County is once again requiring all employees and visitors to wear a mask inside Hennepin County facilities, which include government buildings and libraries. The policy takes effect Wednesday. Face coverings will be required regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
The policy shift comes as cases have increased in Hennepin County, many of them attributed to the delta variant. According to CDC’s COVID data tracker, Hennepin County has “substantial” levels of community transmission. Substantial is defined as 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period. Hennepin County is currently averaging about 65 cases per 100,000 residents. Hennepin County is also seeing increases in hospitalization.
“Delta is different because we know this strain spreads more easily from person to person,” said David Johnson, manager of epidemiology with Hennepin County. “Another key difference is that we have new evidence that in the rare event where someone who is vaccinated becomes infected with delta, they may be able to pass it along to others.”
In Hennepin County, nearly 62% of all residents are fully vaccinated. For ages 12 and up, the population eligible for vaccines, jut over 72% of people are fully vaccinated in the county, about 5 percentage points higher than statewide. Health expert don’t expect a vaccine to be ready before school starts next month for kids under 12.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the delta variant spreads about twice as easily as previous strains of the novel coronavirus. Cases attributed to this particular viral strain have grown from less than 1% of cases nationwide in May to more than 80% of current cases.
“I’m sick to my stomach thinking we’re back to, kind of feels like where we were, and I know we’re not, but it feels that way,” said Jeff Lunde, District 1 commissioner upon hearing the news.