Clay County masking and social distancing policies change

Karen Newman 

Following an early-morning Personnel Issues Committee (PIC) meeting about changes in Clay County’s masking and social distancing policies, the Clay County Board of Commissioners approved the following as presented by County Administrator Stephen Larson and Public Health Director Kathy McKay:

Effective May 18, 2021, following the guidance of the CDC and Governor Walz’s Executive Order 21-23, masks and social distancing will not be required in Clay County buildings or property. However, people who are not fully vaccinated, or  two weeks since their final vaccine dose, are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors and practice social distancing. The county will also continue to support the public and staff that choose to wear a mask while in county buildings and vehicles.

Fully vaccinated people should also continue to wear a mask in our Clay County Correctional Facility, the West Central Juvenile Detention Center and Clay County Detox until otherwise directed by CDC and Minnesota Department of Health. The State of Minnesota Supreme Court order governing the continuing of the Judicial Branch should be referred to regarding masking and social distancing within the Clay County Courthouse.

Commissioner David Ebinger explained that while not questioning individuals about their choice to wear a mask, it is important to rely on the honor system in continuing to keep covid numbers down.

Commissioner Jenna Kahly said, “I would hope that some of our staff who are feeling a little hesitant or are on the fence still would be encouraged to go in and finally get the shot. It is not a personal decision.  It is not for everyone. We all know there are medical reasons not to get the shot but for those that can, and just haven’t made the time yet, I would hope that they would.”

Acting as chair in the absence of Kevin Campbell, Jenny Mongeau referred to the CARES Act Committee’s actions, “We worked really hard to address safe work environments and safety of the community and customers that come in. I think we did a really good job with that.”

 In light of encouraging reports about the drop in Covid-19 cases and increasing numbers of vaccinated individuals, the Clay County Commission informed Public Health Director Kathy McKay that weekly Covid-19 updates presented to the board may now take place every two weeks, barring emergency situations which might require a return to weekly briefings.

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