Gov. Tim Walz plans to announce a rollback of restrictions for indoor dining this week, his office said Monday evening. Minnesota’s current COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on indoor dining, run through late Sunday.
“Many of them are ready to put in mitigation efforts. But I think this idea that everybody is going to go back in maskless and pack these places, that’s not the way it’s going to look,” the governor said.
He said coronavirus test positivity rates are lower than they were when the restrictions were imposed, and hospitals aren’t under as much strain. Walz said he personally would feel comfortable eating at a restaurant once indoor table service resumes.
Walz will announce his next steps during a live address at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The announcement comes as Minnesota health officials say the state expects to receive enough COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate all its health care workers and most nursing-home residents by the end of January.
The state has administered 78,402 vaccinations as of Monday, less than 30 percent of the nearly 300,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines allocated to the state by the federal government. Minnesota’s infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said the state has more than 221,000 does on hand and are proceeding quickly but carefully to distribute them.
“Once doses arrive at their final destination, hospitals are moving deliberately to make sure they get it right. The people giving the shots need to be trained, and the people getting the shots might need education about the vaccine to be comfortable putting it in to their bodies,” Ehresmann told reporters Monday.
While enough vaccines are available for a first shot for all health care workers designated for phase 1A, which covers health care professionals, long-term care residents and others most likely to encounter the coronavirus, Ehresmann said it would take through the month of January to complete the first round.
Here are Minnesota’s current COVID-19 statistics:
5,443 deaths (13 newly reported)
423,688 positive cases (3,148 newly reported), 405,556 off isolation (96 percent)
5.7 million tests, 3 million people tested (about 61 percent of the population)
11 percent seven-day positive test rate (officials find 5 percent concerning)
Case numbers have been mostly stable, although Monday marks a notable upturn. That said, state data show unusual deviations in other areas, like the percent of positive tests. That’s often a sign of data anomalies that can be linked to holiday reporting schedules.
New hospital admissions are down below 100 for only the third time in the last two months and new vaccination data now show nearly 80,000 Minnesotans have been inoculated so far.
Caseloads spread across age groups
People in their 20s still make up the age bracket with the state’s largest number of confirmed cases — more than 80,000 since the pandemic began, including more than 42,000 among people ages 20 to 24.
The number of high school-age youth confirmed with the disease has also grown, with more than 32,000 total cases among those ages 15 to 19 since the pandemic began.
Although less likely to feel the worst effects of the disease and end up hospitalized, experts worry youth and young adults will spread it to older relatives and members of other vulnerable populations.
It’s of particular concern because people can have the coronavirus and spread COVID-19 when they don’t have symptoms.
New cases ebb across Minnesota
Central and western Minnesota drove much of the increase in new cases over the past two months, while Hennepin and Ramsey counties showed some of the slowest case growth in the state.
Cases continue to fall statewide, with most regions dipping down to levels before the state’s COVID-19 surge that hit in November and early December.
Hot spots continue to pop up in rural counties relative to their population.
Caseloads still heaviest among people of color
In Minnesota and across the country, COVID-19 has hit communities of color disproportionately hard in both cases and deaths. That’s been especially true for Minnesotans of Hispanic descent for much of the pandemic.
Even as new case counts ease from their peak a few weeks ago, the data shows people of color continue to be hit hardest.
Distrust of the government, together with deeply rooted health and economic disparities, have hampered efforts to boost testing among communities of color, officials say, especially among unauthorized immigrants who fear their personal information may be used to deport them.
Similar trends have been seen among Minnesota’s Indigenous residents. Counts among Indigenous people jumped in October relative to population.
Developments around the state
Man charged after allegedly pointing gun at manager at a Maplewood gym over mask dispute
A man was charged Monday with threatening a fitness club employee over the wearing of masks.
Ramsey County prosecutors say Michael Florhaug confronted the manager of an LA Fitness in Maplewood, Minn., last Thursday.
According to the criminal complaint, the 65-year-old Maplewood man said not enough people were wearing masks. A man working out saw Florhaug point a handgun at the manager before the manager tackled Florhaug and managed to disarm him when his back was turned, prosecutors said.
Florhaug said he just flashed the gun.
— Nancy Lebens | MPR News
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COVID-19 in Minnesota
Data in these graphs are based on the Minnesota Department of Health’s cumulative totals released at 11 a.m. daily. You can find more detailed statistics on COVID-19 at the Health Department website.
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