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Many remote workers remain home amid rising positive COVID-19 numbers

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Many employees who became remote workers during the COVID-19 pandemic likely thought they would have made a return to the office by now.

But with a recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases and uncertainties with the variants, remote workers continue to remain at home.

Axios published a story stating many large companies predicted September 7th as a day most remote workers would be back in the office.

That date though was set back when COVID numbers were low in Minnesota and vaccination rates were high.

"Well, I think like a lot of companies, we're trying to navigate what life in like in COVID," said Patrick Seeb, Destination Medical Center (DMC) Director. "And we had hoped, I think, that we'd flip a switch after vaccinations and be right back at it."

Looking at present day COVID numbers, some employees remain at home, working remotely, including at Mayo Clinic.

The medical giant says there are 10,000 employees nationwide who work remotely a majority of the time.

"But what we've discovered is that people want to be together, they want to work together and so [DMC] created kind of a hybrid model where people are in the office some days and working remotely other days," Seeb said.

Some local businesses like Cafe Steam say they have noticed not everyone is back to work downtown.

"We've lost a little bit of the regular crowd that we've had in the past,' said Samuel Haefner, Cafe Steam General Store Manager. "With some many people still working from home and many of Mayo's businesses still taking that work from home model, you know so many people on Zoom these days. The regulars that I use to see maybe about four or five times a week has gone down to about one or two and that's just when they're able to get into the office."

Another business, Poppi Italian Leather in the Galleria at University Square in downtown, says it has seen an uptick in sales this summer.

"Definitely revenues have increased," Rebecca Calhoun, Poppi Italian Leather Owner said. "I think it's just because people have not been out for the past year and now they're out again and people are tired of shopping online and they are very excited about actually looking at the clothes and trying the clothes on."

Of the nearly 40,000 Mayo Clinic employees based in Rochester, approximately 20,000 of them remain working downtown.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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