The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance Tuesday for people to wear masks, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, in indoor areas with substantial or high rates of transmission. Lake County is one of 14 counties in Minnesota that falls under this criteria, with 50 or more cases per 100,000.
There were eight cases of COVID-19 identified in Lake County between July 21 and 28. According to CDC data from July 24, the seven-day testing positivity rate is nearly 12%, an increase of 8% from the week before. This is considered high community transmission of the coronavirus, and is currently the second-highest positivity rate in the state. Lake of the Woods County has a positivity rate of just under 15%.
However, because of Lake and Lake of the Woods counties' low populations, the percentages of positivity can be skewed. Last week, Lake County saw five positive cases from 126 tests, which equated to a 4% positivity rate.
"With a relatively small population, this number can fluctuate widely from week to week in Lake County," a statement from the county Wednesday afternoon read. "Just five new cases in a week will give Lake County the designation of having high community transmission."
Lake County's cases peaked in late November, when more than 100 cases were reported in a week. Lake County's population is estimated to be approximately 10,700 people.
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County officials urged the public to get the vaccine.
“If you’ve been waiting to get vaccinated, now is the time," Lisa Hanson, director of Lake County Health and Human Services, said in the news release. "Vaccination is the best tool we have to reduce community transmission and continue on the path to normalcy. Nobody wants to even think about having to return to mask mandates, distance learning or stay-at-home orders, but we’ve previously seen how quickly our situation can change with this virus.”
The CDC's new masking recommendations come as the delta variant of COVID-19 becomes widespread across the country. The other 13 Minnesota counties classified with substantial or high rates of community transmission include Lake of the Woods, Roseau, Wilkin, Traverse, Pope, Swift, Redwood, Cottonwood, Isanti, Mille Lacs, Waseca, Dodge and Scott.