Despite the easing of mask mandates from federal agencies, state government and municipal leaders, Essentia Health, Tri-County Health and area school districts will continue to enforce their mask policies.

Universal masking for Essentia Health patients, visitors and staff will remain a requirement in all facilities across Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.

“While we respect the loosening of mask mandates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent guidelines do not cover health care settings like hospitals, clinics and long-term-care facilities,” a news release from Essentia Health stated Friday, May 14. “Regardless of an individual’s vaccination status, the CDC recommends visitors to health care settings continue wearing a well-fitted face covering.”

Essentia Health encourages everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccine is available for those 12 and older.

Patients and non-patients can make an appointment through Essentia’s MyChart patient portal or by calling 833-494-0836. Visit https://bit.ly/33Nttoh more information. Anyone under the age of 18 must bring a consent form signed by their parent or guardian to be eligible for the shot.

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Tri-County Health visitors refusing to wear a mask or abide by established mitigation guidelines will be asked to leave, a news related stated.

Masking in schools

Though Minnesota’s mask mandate has ended, the CDC has not yet provided clear guidance for school settings. Guidance for children in school and summer camps is expected to be announced soon.

But as the youngest Minnesotans remain ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan remains in effect, meaning students across the state must continue wearing masks in school buildings and on buses throughout the remainder of the school year.

As previously announced, proms, graduations and other end-of-year celebrations should continue to follow the Stay Safe - Entertainment Venue guidance. This guidance will continue to be updated.

“We are making great progress in our fight against COVID-19, but our school-age children have been significantly impacted by the virus in recent months, so we must continue to be diligent with health and safety practices through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year,” Education Commissioner Heather Mueller stated in a news release Thursday, May 13.