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North Shore county asks visitors and seasonal homeowners to stay away

Cook County Commissioners unanimously approved a travel advisory requesting seasonal or second homeowners stay in their permanent homes.

GRAND MARAIS, Minn. — Sitting on the shores of majestic Lake Superior, Cook County and its communities thrive on tourism.

In fact, more than half of the homes there are seasonal.

"It's all about visitors," said Jim Boyd, the executive director of Cook County's Chamber of Commerce

That makes it even more noteworthy that Boyd, and many others on the North Shore, are asking visitors and part-time residents to stay away for now.

"It really does go against the grain for us to be saying this, it really does," said Boyd. "We simply do not have the capacity either medical or in grocery stores or any other way."

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"We talk about flattening the curve. That's kind of the buzz word out there. We can't even have a curve up here," said Mike Larson, co-owner of Cascade Vacation Rentals.

Larson manages around 175 properties between Duluth and the Canadian border. He has cancelled all of his existing reservations through April. 

"It's a big deal for us," he said.

Cook County Commissioners now have taken action as well. 

"This is very serious and we need to take extreme measures," said County Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk.

She and her colleagues unanimously approved a travel advisory requesting seasonal or second-home owners stay in their permanent homes due to the county's limited healthcare infrastructure.

"We don't have 200 ventilators. We don't have 200 beds," said Doo-Kirk. 

Cook County's action follows other counties in Wisconsin, such as Sawyer and Barron, in issuing travel advisories as well.

It's all in an effort to keep people who live year-around in cabin country safe and healthy.

"It's not that we don't like these people, it's just best for everyone if they stay where they are and where there are more services for them," said Boyd.

Cook County leaders are also asking people who may have already made it to their seasonal homes to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days.

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