City council urges residents to wear a mask as COVID-19 cases surge 

Richfield is seeing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases due to the virus’s Omicron variant, much like the rest of the nation. At the Richfield City Council’s January 11 meeting, the community’s elected officials urged all residents to wear a mask when in public to reduce the community spread of the virus. Additionally, masks are again required in all city facilities, including the Municipal Center, liquor stores, ice arena, community center, and inside the Wood Lake Nature Center.

“The surge in COVID-19 cases is so frustrating and I cannot believe we are here,” confessed Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez. “The lives that have been lost and the families that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic is absolutely horrible. I urge everyone who lives, works and visits Richfield to wear a mask and help stop the spread of COVID-19.”  

With the Omicron variant raging, cases are climbing faster and faster every day. Case in point, on July 15, 2021, Richfield’s total positive case count since the beginning of the pandemic was 4,000. It took four months, or until November 16, 2021, to reach 5,000 cases. It took only six weeks to surpass 6,000 cases on December 30, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorize a “substantial level of community spread” of the COVID-19 virus when the number of daily cases rises above 50 per 100,000. Currently, the City of Richfield is experiencing a daily positive caseload equivalent to 1,500 per 100,000.

“Our systems are overloaded and stretched to capacity because of the pandemic,” remarked At-Large Councilmember Mary Supple. “Wearing a mask when you are in public is a proven way to protect yourself and others from getting sick while ensuring that essential services such as water, snow removal, police and fire can continue to operate uninterrupted.” 

Based on available data from January 11, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 6,501 positive cases have been identified in Richfield. During that same timeframe, 412 residents have been hospitalized, 68 of them requiring a stay in the intensive care unit. Fifty-seven residents have lost their lives due to contracting the COVID-19 virus.

During his update to the Richfield City Council on January 11, Bloomington Public Health Department Administrator Dr. Nick Kelley provided explained the current state of affairs with the virus and advice to keep residents safe. 

“We are anticipating the next three to four weeks being very challenging with cases going up,” stated Dr. Kelley. “I urge all residents to focus on virus mitigation efforts such as getting vaccinated, getting a booster shot, wearing a high-quality mask, social distancing, following isolation and quarantine guidelines, as well as limiting high-risk virus transmission activities.”   

The full text of the council’s resolution is available on the city’s website.