On January 7, Duluth’s Essentia Health and St. Luke’s Hospital voiced their joint support for a city-wide mask mandate and today Duluth Mayor Emily Larson issued an executive order that will put a mask mandate in place throughout Duluth.

Mayor Larson announced the mask mandate during a midday press conference on January 13, with representatives from Essentia Health and St. Luke's on hand.

When Essentia Health and St. Luke's announced their support last week, they voiced concern that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm local health care resources. They added that the highly transmissible omicron variant is spreading across our region, threatening to once again shut down or significantly impact many aspects of our daily lives.

They also reiterated that wearing a mask in public is great tool to help mitigate the negative effects as they reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets which helps protect yourself and those around you.

During Thursday's press conference, Dr. Nick Van Deelen from St. Luke's said that there are currently 26 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at that hospital alone, with 9 currently being treated in intensive care. He added that there are currently 162 St. Luke's employees out sick and that over half of those have COVID.

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Also on hand for the press conference was Duluth City Council President Arik Forsman, who also voiced his support for a mask mandate and encouraged all council members and residents to do their part.

Mayor Larson says the Duluth mask mandate will be in effect on Friday, January 14, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Masks will be required in all public indoor spaces. It will be in effect for 30 days initially, at which time Duluth City Council and city officials can determine if it should continue.

Mayor Larson says the mandate will be enforced and that penalties would include misdemeanors for individuals and licensing penalties for businesses who fail to comply.

Health officials also pointed out another key tool in the battle with COVID-19 is the vaccine, which is readily available in Duluth. Dr. Van Deelen encouraged everyone to get the vaccine and if it's been 6 months or more since first becoming fully vaccinated, residents should get their booster shot as soon a possible.

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.

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