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Area health officials in Iowa are encouraging residents to follow new federal health guidelines that advise Americans — even those who are fully vaccinated — to wear masks in certain situations in areas with high levels of virus transmission.

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For the first time since November, the rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in Iowa has been increasing in recent weeks. And that’s with the more dangerous Delta variant becoming more prevalent, a statewide vaccination rate that is lagging many other states, and major public events like RAGBRAI and the Iowa State Fair on the horizon.

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(St. Paul, MN)  --  Minnesota House Republicans tried unsuccessfully again in special session Monday to cancel Governor Tim Walz's COVID emergency powers after they were extended another 30 days.  G-O-P Representative Dave Baker of Willmar said, "respectful employers -- himself included -- can't find workers because Walz won't end the 300-dollar weekly unemployment benefit "top-off" that makes it more attractive to stay out of the workforce."  House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler responded, "if we end the emergency powers, the capacity of the governor to re-instate them to respond to another crisis on COVID 19 is very much up in the air."  Republicans claim the COVID crisis is over.  State health officials reported 118 new cases and five more deaths Monday.

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Illinois public health officials on Saturday reported 1,108 new probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 43 deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,374,565 cases and 22,599 deaths.