It's been a newsworthy week for Essentia Health in Duluth. On Thursday, they announced they would be changing their longstanding mask policy. Beginning Monday, April 3, a voluntary masking policy for most staff, patients, and visitors will be in place. This will be the policy for their hospitals, clinics, and home health care.

On Friday, an unrelated announcement was made that brings good news to Northland motorists who travel near Essentia's Vision Northland project.

According to their news release, because the majority of construction is complete on Essentia Health’s replacement St. Mary’s Medical Center, more roadways in the Duluth Medical District are reopening and returning to their original traffic-flow patterns.

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These roadways had been closed to allow construction crews to safely work on the Vision Northland project, which is transforming Essentia’s downtown campus. However, they are now able to reopen the stretch of Fourth Avenue East, from Second Street down to Superior Street. This will be reopened on the afternoon of Friday, March 31.

Also, all lanes will be open on Second Street from Fourth Avenue East to Fifth Avenue East; all fencing and other barriers will be removed.

Additionally, all lanes of Superior Street from Fourth Avenue East to Fifth Avenue East will reopen, with all fencing and barriers to be removed there as well.

Essentia Health adds that First Street, from the east side of Fourth Avenue East to Sixth Avenue East, will remain closed until closer to project completion.

Patients of Essentia Health, or those just traveling through the area, are encouraged to visit the Essentia Health website to stay up to date on current routes, parking, and patient drop-off sites.

Lastly, as the Vision Northland project enters its final phase, Essentia Health wants Northland residents to know they appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding with any temporary inconveniences it may have caused.

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