COVID19 Policy

Here is what I believe Olmsted County should be doing in terms of COVID19 Masking Policy. I say Olmsted County because they are the level of government responsible for public health.

That said there has been very little policy guidance coming from them and this will force the city to act despite not having a public health department. Voluntary compliance is not working with too many people and businesses. The goal of this policy is reduce transmission, prevent serious illness and death, and to prevent businesses from having to shutter again.

  1. Require masking inside (and outside where social distancing is not possible) at all businesses.
  2. Limit situations where masks may not be worn, there are plenty of reasonable examples.
  3. Under the Mayor’s emergency powers; issue a required “pandemic operating license” to all businesses in Rochester. This license is automatically granted and free of charge.
  4. Work with businesses to help them understand and come into compliance with the policy.
  5. Revoke the license of businesses still not in compliance.
  6. Update policy as we learn more.
  7. Policy expires after a period of 2 weeks with no local transmission of cases, end of the peacetime emergency, or a vaccine is available. Update: It sounds like I can pick up 1 vote by requiring this be renewed after 60 days. I can make that compromise.

Note that this policy will rely on businesses not the police enforcing the policy. This is important because what I specifically do NOT want to do is create new criminalization and require Police interactions. The exact details is a staff / community level exercise.

“Rochester Ready” is dangerous in its current form. It says that businesses are not required to have customers wear masks, and we will still give them a certification that says the business is safe. Currently the City, Mayo Clinic, Experience Rochester and the Rochester Area Chamber are OK with this. The provides an official designation saying a space is safe while it clearly is not. I am not and will ask the City to lead by example and remove support for this plan until it is better. In the creation of “Rochester Ready” I was never consulted until after it came out.

Don’t give me the “science isn’t there lecture.” In general the scientific community is there. I am posting this so our medical community can show me the data where I am wrong, I can fix that, and they can hopefully amplify the message. Nice summary. Short of that I will just say, look at Japan…

Yes, for a variety of mental or physical reasons some people can’t wear masks. In normal times we make reasonable accommodations. These are emergency times and these individuals should not be going into businesses without a mask because COVID19 doesn’t care about their situation. The reality is most of the problem is adults throwing temper tantrums and its OK to not let people into businesses for that reason.

So if you’re going to be mad at me, fine. But you should really be mad at the people who are shying away from action amidst a crisis.

I am not a dictator. I can’t just do this. I believe that only the Mayor can make this emergency declaration and only then can the City Council take it up. I am also not an attorney so I will have to check with our legal team if this strategy can work. I believe it can under an emergency declaration.


  1. I do not think #7 is reasonable. Two weeks without any transmission? What if this is a year round disease we never get rid of?

    1. As someone who grew up surrounded by 1970’s era Libertarians, I wouldn’t add Paul’s opinion into a public health conversation about a pandemic. Turn to him for understanding alternative stances on seatbelts, sidewalk shoveling, private property restrictions, etc… but not contagious diseases.

  2. Looks good, sir.
    Small typo: “Note that this policy will rely on businesses not the policy enforcing the policy.” I’m thinking you meant “…not the POLICE enforcing the policy.”

    1. Agree. It’s unfortunate the Mayo Clinic backs a plan that is in direct opposition to their own practices. This disease is still new with unknown long term outcomes in those who contract it. Our goal should be to reduce transmission as much as possible for the health of our community. Mandatory masks will help decrease the R0. There are very few valid reasons for not wearing a mask and, as you said, those who can’t wear a mask should stay out of public spaces to maintain their own health. Thank you.

  3. I don’t always agree with you, Michael, but this is spot on. Mayo has a campaign to encourage staff to mask in public and it’s required at work. Public health has also made a strong recommendation to mask. People aren’t doing it. It needs to be a requirement. What is the city government waiting for??

  4. Totally agree with the suggestions and that this is important and necessary. Aside from the residents who should all care about protecting each other (but don’t seem to in large numbers), Mayo brings in many people who are extremely high-risk and would contribute to a strain on our healthcare system, or further spread the disease after going home.

  5. In regards to #2 and your comment, “COVID-19 doesn’t care about your situation.” Do you have an idea what it’s like to have PTSD, GAD with panic attacks, because you were a victim of domestic violence? Well I do. I’ve tried wearing the mask and I the words “I can’t breathe” become my reality! So, yes there are people like myself, that need to go out in public and do all I can to social distance and limit the time and places I frequent. I believe it should be up to the individual business owners to make this decision.
    Thank you.

    1. I am sure it is terrible and I am sorry for those dealing with it, but these situations do not change the fact that you can more easily get and spread the disease without a mask.

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