Published on January 07, 2022

Essentia Health, St. Luke’s support City of Duluth mask mandate

As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm health care resources, leaders from Essentia Health and St. Luke’s applaud Duluth City Councilor Terese Tomanek’s intentions to introduce an emergency ordinance that would mandate masks in public spaces citywide.

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. However, we have the tools to mitigate the negative effects. One of those tools is wearing a mask in public. By wearing a mask, which reduces the transmission of respiratory droplets, you protect yourself and those around you. Masks should cover the mouth and nose completely.

“We understand that people are tired of wearing masks,” said Dr. Nick Van Deelen, Co-President/CEO & Chief Medical Officer at St. Luke’s. “We are all tired of wearing masks, yet they are an important tool in minimizing the spread of COVID-19. For the sake of all residents, as well as all industries that are severely struggling with high employee infections, including health care systems, please support the mask mandate.”

Hospitals like Essentia and St. Luke’s are facing daily capacity concerns, impacting the ability to provide the kind of timely care patients expect and deserve. COVID-19 is straining resources. Wearing a mask is just one thing people can do to help health systems.

Other important measures include getting vaccinated — the overwhelming majority of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated — social distancing, staying home when you don’t feel well and getting tested if symptoms arise.

“Doctors and nurses who have been on the front lines of this pandemic for almost two years are exhausted, and they need your help,” said Dr. Jon Pryor, President of Essentia Health’s East Market. “Nobody wants to see small businesses close or schools revert to distance learning, and the simple act of wearing a face covering in public is one way for us to avoid those outcomes. We again need the help of our community, which has stepped up for us time and time again during this public health crisis.”

St. Luke’s and Essentia encourage residents to reach out to their city councilor to let them know they support the proposed mask mandate: duluthmn.gov/city-council.

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