St. Louis County requiring face masks inside county buildings

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St. Louis County requiring face masks inside county buildings

By Dana Kazel
St. Louis County is requiring face masks to be worn inside all county buildings. This applies to all employees and visitors regardless of vaccination status.

St. Louis County continues to experience substantial transmission of COVID-19. The CDC defines substantial transmission as 50 or more new cases per 100,000 residents in a week. St. Louis County, with 200,000 residents, has had 120 new cases in the last week.

Wearing a face mask is a proven way to limit spread of COVID-19, in particular to the unvaccinated, including children who are too young to be eligible for the vaccine. Getting vaccinated remains the best way for people to protect themselves and those around them from the potentially serious effects of COVID and the highly contagious delta variant.

Vaccination data (as of August 8) for St. Louis County shows that 116,522 people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This equals 67.7% of the population age 16 and older. St. Louis County Public Health continues to offer vaccine clinics each week. Details can be found at stlouiscountymn.gov/vaccineregistration. People also are encouraged to check with their medical provider or pharmacy for vaccine opportunities.

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Following the announced retirement of St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin, under Minnesota law, it is the County Board’s responsibility to appoint someone to fill the role for the remainder of the term.

Rubin plans to retire on September 30, 2021. His current term ends January 2, 2023.

Anyone interested in applying for the appointment should email a cover letter and resume to Deputy County Administrator Brian Fritsinger at fritsingerb@stlouiscountymn.gov on or before August 31, 2021.

At their meeting Tuesday, commissioners expressed a commitment to keeping the selection process transparent. The board intends to make a final decision on whom to appoint at its meeting on September 14 at the Virginia Courthouse in Virginia.

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The St. Louis County Board gave unanimous support to invest $1.75 million in broadband infrastructure grants. The grants will be distributed to qualifying communities to assist with constructing broadband infrastructure in unserved or underserved areas.

This latest investment is in addition to $250,000 authorized last month to assist communities with broadband planning costs. Funding for the Broadband Infrastructure Grants comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act money the county received.

Communities may apply for assistance up to $400,000 and requires an equal financial match. Eligible project costs include architectural and engineering fees, consulting costs and services, personnel costs, surveys, construction costs, broadband equipment, and similar costs associated with broadband infrastructure construction. Applications will be reviewed on an on-going basis subject to grant funding availability.

“One of the top priorities I consistently hear from my constituents and from people throughout the county relates to broadband,” said St. Louis County Commissioner Paul McDonald, whose district spans the entire northern half of the county and much of the eastern portion. “We know larger federal and state solutions are needed, but this is a first step in supporting our cities and townships, as well as providers, in their efforts to bring broadband service to residents and businesses.”

The St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday, August 12, from 9-10 a.m. to provide an overview of the Broadband Infrastructure Grant program. All interested stakeholders are encouraged to participate.

Additionally, St. Louis County is looking for input from residents regarding their current home Internet subscription, and their use of and satisfaction with current broadband services. People without a home broadband subscription are also encouraged to provide that information. The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8KBK8PW

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