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Rochester Becomes Latest City To Make Masks Mandatory

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Starting Wednesday, Rochester became the latest city in Minnesota to make masks mandatory.

They're required now inside if you're out in public.  When WCCO visited, we found most people willing to take the precaution in the fight against the pandemic.

Just steps away from the country's top-ranked hospital, we spotted plenty of covered faces on the streets of downtown Rochester.

"My family we don't have anyone sick but for protection it's ok," Hassan Elmi said.

James Darsey flew in from Georgia where COVID cases are climbing.

"We've had a huge spike in cases," Darsey said.

For weeks, Mayor Kim Norton says her community watched fewer people wear masks and in a place where so many vulnerable patients visit she felt the city council had to act

"It was the economic issue and it was the public health issue," Mayor Norton said.

"It became very clear that if we were going to stay open, avoid another shut down we were going to have to do something," she added.

From retail to restaurants, gyms and public transportation. People will be required to wear masks indoors in Rochester.  Norton took to Twitter to ask Governor Tim Walz to make it a Minnesota mandate as some threaten to take their business elsewhere.

The health department Wednesday said it's something the Governor is still considering.

Still, not everyone is convinced after health experts, at first, didn't deem masks necessary.  Now, the CDC recommends them to protect others if you happen to be infected.

But, for those like Joe Hertzog, it may be too late to change his mind.

"I think there's too much confusion too much misinformation being spread," Hertzog said.

Mayor Norton also pointed to three-weeks' worth of climbing COVID-19 cases in Olmstead County as another reason for the mask mandate.

If customers don't comply, Rochester police can cite someone not wearing a mask inside with trespassing.

On Friday, masks will also become mandatory in Mankato and Winona.

Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Edina already have similar orders.  Edina's council is actually meeting right now to consider extending past today.

The Duluth city council is set to vote on the issue next week.

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