Walz, health officials urge Minnesotans to stay vigilant to stop COVID-19 spread

Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota health officials on Thursday urged Minnesotans to stay vigilant and continue to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 going into Labor Day weekend.

Minnesota Department of Health officials said the state’s rate of community transmission is over 30% and sustaining that level.

"As we head into the fall and the long winter ahead, we must double down in our fight to combat the spread of COVID-19," Walz said. "We must all do our part to slow the spread, protect our communities, and keep our businesses open. I know it is hard, but Minnesotans are resilient people. We must dig deep, stay strong, and hold the virus at bay."

KSTP’s Complete COVID-19 Coverage

MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm urged extra caution around private gatherings such as parties, weddings and funerals. MDH has specifically pointed to private gatherings this week citing case growth in those setting across Minnesota, which White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx echoed in her visit to the state last weekend.

"We’re seeing concerning instances of community transmission in our state, often linked to private gatherings like parties or weddings," said Malcolm. "Each of us needs to take responsibility and work hard to keep COVID-19 at bay in our communities."

"I know it is incredibly difficult to not hug your grandparents. It can be awkward to ask your friends to wear a mask. It’s a hassle to keep sanitizing your hands. But just because you’re over the pandemic, doesn’t mean it’s over you," added Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. "As the weather grows colder and we approach flu season, it is more important than ever that we take strict precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19."

The governor painted a dire overall picture of the state’s COVID-19 status.

"I said back in March when we had a very unusual State of the State address from the basement of the governor’s residence that we were in for a long, dark winter and we knew it was going to be and it’s turned out to be so," Walz said, pointing out that the rate of positive cases is now above five percent.

However, other metrics involving the worst possible outcomes from COVID-19 are actually looking much better than the spring and early summer. The number of deaths peaked at 696 in May, or about 22 per day. The numbers plummeted to 159 in July (five per day) and 217 in August (seven per day). Hospitializations peaked at over 600 per day in May, but have averaged below 300 the first three days of September.

You can watch Thursday’s full press conference below.