Transcript for Minnesota enforces a mask mandate
On Saturday Minnesota surpassed 50,000 total cases of covid-19. That same day a statewide mask mandate went into effect. Here with the latest on her city is Rochester, Minnesota mayor Kim Norton. Mayor Norton, thank you for being with us. You actually issued a mask mandate for your city earlier this month and that was weeks ahead of Saturday's statewide mandate, but how has compliance been? Well, it's been a challenge. People were not complying with the voluntary requests that we had in earlier this month, last year -- last month, so we did move to the mandate and that really did make a big difference. I would say we're at 85 or 90% compliance right now, and the governor having moved the mandate as well has helped. Now, I know it was reported earlier that at least 70 new cases of covid-19 were traced back to young people going out to bars there in Rochester. What have you learned about that outbreak and how it spread in your community? The lucky thing for Rochester is we had asked the governor for Olmsted county public health to be able to do the contact tracing so it has happened quickly. Our results are back within a day or two, and the contact tracing has been successful. So between the contact tracing and the masking, we are now seeing a drop in cases which is positive. But of course, it takes a while for that initial outbreak to work its way through the community and for us to make sure we get people isolated. That is certainly encouraging news, and I know you're looking ahead to November. You're concerned about a shortage of election workers at polling places because of this pandemic, so how are you addressing that and the safety issues? Well, you know, we are America's city for health and we want to make sure that voting is healthy for people. We typically have elderly people working in our voting, our polling places, so this year the Olmstead county and city employees have been requested to help fill some of those spots this year, and so hundreds of city and county employees will be poll workers this year. I know of course your city about an hour and a half from Minneapolis where four former police officers are now charged in the death of George Floyd. What changes are being made in your city in response to George Floyd's death? Well, we did have several weeks of weekend rallies and protests. They were peaceful, went very well, and as a response to that, we pulled together our police policy oversight committee to review policies. Our chief of police put in place immediately a ban on chokeholds and also the duty to intercede or intervene by other police officers if something like the George Floyd incident was happening, that it would be stopped immediately. And we are reviewing all of our policies and took them before the city council, some of the, I guess, other ideas that we've been hearing from the community about what we should be doing. So we took those before the city council and continue to make adjustments moving ahead. We certainly appreciate you talking to us today. I know you're very busy. We appreciate your time, mayor Norton. Thank you for being with us. Absolutely. Thank you.
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