The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe on July 31 announced they would be resuming the indoor mask mandate effective Monday, August 2, 2021.
They stated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new COVID-19 mask guidelines in response to new scientific information on emerging variants and that the CDC strongly recommends all individuals – vaccinated and unvaccinated – wear masks indoors in public spaces.
“Keeping the health and safety of our communities, employees, and guests at the forefront of decision making, Mille Lacs Band Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Nicole Anderson, issued Commissioner’s Order 21-03 stating effective Monday, August 2, 2021,” stated the Band. Masks will be mandatory in all Mille Lacs Band owned buildings and facilities. This includes government buildings, schools, businesses, clinics, community centers, and the casinos.
Their statement says, “All viruses change over time. As the CDC and other health experts are reporting, the delta variant is a highly contagious virus strain spreading faster than the original strain. We had all hoped we were on the tail end of this pandemic. We realize reinstating safety protocols, specifically a mask mandate, may be frustrating. But we have learned that wearing masks, social distancing, and washing our hands helped mitigate the spread of the virus. Your health and safety is our number one priority.”
The reissuing of the mask mandate at the casino comes on the heels of Mille Lacs County being listed as an at-risk county for COVID-19 transmission. The Grand Casino says at the COVID-19 situation changes they will continue to adjust their policies.
The CDC currently lists Mille Lacs County in the “substantial” category for community transmission and adds the recommendation for mask wearing in substantially or high ranked counties. Positive COVID-19 tests in Mille Lacs County have increased from less than 2% being positive to 3-5% being positive in the last two weeks, placing Mille Lacs County in the “substantial” category for transmission according to the Minnesota Department of Health website. The statewide average is 2.2% of tests coming back positive.