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Boreal Community Media

Chamber encourages County Board to petition Walz for statewide mask requirement, community input is sought.

Jul 09, 2020 04:46PM ● By Editor
Duluth Human Rights Officer Carl Crawford greeted Minnesota Governor Tim Walz with an elbow bump last month.  Photo: Alex Kormann - Star Tribune

From Boreal Community Media - July 9, 2020

In an email to its members on Thursday, Cook County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Boyd encouraged its members to contact acting County Administrator Rena Rogers regarding their support for a statewide mask requirement from Governor Tim Walz.

Boyd wrote, "In a meeting of business, medical, public health and county administrative personnel this morning, the issue was raised of whether the County Board might also send a letter to the governor making the (same) request for a statewide mask mandate."

"Rena Rogers, interim county administrator, said she would put the issue on the agenda for the County Board meeting Tuesday." Boyd continued, "But she would like to know, and let the County Board know, if a mask requirement enjoys strong support from residents of Cook County."

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Walz’s potential statewide mask requirement step comes amid growing evidence for how masks can work in concert with other safety protocols health officials are pleading with people to adopt — if masks are worn properly and made with the right materials. Physician groups in Minnesota and the state Health Department are now fully backing a mandate.

“That’s been a vigorous conversation within the executive branch, and with the governor directly. And I think he is listening,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said last week, the newspaper reported.

In his email to Chamber members, Boyd encouraged members, residents and visitors to Cook County to express their support for a statewide mask requirement by sending emails to Rogers.

"If you believe that residents and visitors in Cook County would be safer if everyone were  required to wear masks inside all businesses and in crowded outdoor settings, could you please write to the Cook County Board and request that it petition Gov. Tim Walz for a statewide mask requirement?", wrote Boyd.

He continued, "Rena Rogers has said that she will read your emails to the board in the public comments period at the start of the Tuesday County Board meeting.   You can send your views on a mask requirement to the County Board by emailing them to [email protected]."

According to reporting in the Star Tribune, in April the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in places like grocery stores and pharmacies where it’s difficult to stay at least 6 feet apart. Many public health experts have become convinced of the benefits of wearing homemade masks after seeing what has happened in hospitals, where workers who don’t directly work with patients have had to resort to cloth masks, said Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, a critical care and infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic.

“Statistically speaking, it’s a no-brainer,” said Dr. Jon Pryor, president of Essentia Health’s east market. “Masks make a difference. They have been proven to protect us. By wearing a mask you are not making a political statement; you are making a statement that says ‘I care about others.’ ” reported the Star Tribune.