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Olmsted County Public Health eyes return to normalcy

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- In an announcement this week, Olmsted County Public Health Director Graham Briggs, noted that due to high vaccination rates and local mitigation efforts, the pandemic is receding in Olmsted County.

Briggs added that this can be seen with declining case rates and hospitalizations. He also said 64% of Olmsted County's overall population has received at least one vaccine dose, a number he believes is critical for herd immunity.

"We're seeing enough immunity in the population now that we've got some protection or some ability to withstand new cases of COVID being introduced into the community," said Briggs.

Though most of Briggs' comments in Tuesday's updates were positive, he noted that risk is still high for those who have not yet received a vaccine.

As for Rochester residents, some believe the optimism and the dwindling restrictions are problematic. Many residents continue to wear masks diligently when in public in spite of there being no mandate by government officials or by most businesses. Some residents said they would continue to mask up until children have been vaccinated, while others are simply just not ready.

"Mentally I'm just not quite there yet to go back to normal life where we go into stores without masks," said Rachel Obranovich, a Rochester resident. "In general, when places leave it up to you, then I'll be ready to ditch the mask pretty soon. I think things are headed in the right direction for that."

This week was also the first time in eighteen months Briggs did not give an update to the county board. Briggs is also ending the weekly pandemic video updates. However, he said Olmsted County Public Health will continue to allocate resources for vaccinations going forward, especially as availability increases for more age groups.

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Noah Caplan

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