Recently, the Center for Disease Control updated their recommendation regarding students returning to school for the 2021 school year. This was due to the Delta variant, combined with still a significant number of unvaccinated individuals, causing a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The primary change involved the wearing of facial coverings:

Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

Once that announcement was made, Minnesota health officials publicly stated that they believed schools across the state should follow the updated CDC recommendations.

On Monday, August 2, the administration for the University of Minnesota followed suit and made an announcement that impacts all of their campuses, including the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

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The 'Message From the Office of the President' states that "with the advice of our University public health experts, effective tomorrow, August 3, we are reinstituting the requirement that all students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors to our campuses, offices, and facilities, statewide, wear facial coverings while indoors, regardless of your vaccination status."

The letter goes on to say that wearing a mask or facial covering indoors has been shown to slow the transmission of COVID-19 as well as help to virtually eliminate other airborne illnesses like the flu.

There will currently be no facial covering requirements for anyone outdoors at any University of Minnesota campus.

The University of Minnesota also encourages everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine, stressing that the vaccines have been proven effective against the Delta variant.

This is not a surprising announcement whatsoever. In the past several days, both Grand Casino Hinckley and Grand Casino Mille Lacs started once again to require face coverings inside. Duluth Whole Foods Co-op also instituted a face covering policy for all customers and employees. Something tells me this trend will continue into fall and through winter.

Health experts have called this surge in COVID-19 cases a "pandemic for the unvaccinated" and while that may be true in terms of who is getting the most sick, it clearly impacts everyone. Sadly, this could once again get worse before we can truly put it behind us.

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