Tuesday October 27, 2020
Signs behind the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center alert people to the presence of free COVID-19 testing in September in Duluth, Minn. Derek Montgomery for MPR News file
As Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers continue to move swiftly in the wrong direction, Gov. Tim Walz on Monday again implored Minnesotans to do more to stem the disease’s rampant spread.
Reaching for a football metaphor, Walz called on Minnesotans to make a “goal-line stand” against the virus by wearing masks, socially distancing and staying home if you feel ill.
“We can write a different story about what COVID-19 does in Minnesota, but it’s going to take all of us,” he told reporters.
His top health officials again urged Minnesotans to rethink their plans for large family gatherings at Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays, warning they pose a rising risk.
Given the current high levels of community spread in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, get-togethers of “large extended families, multiple families from around the region, that absolutely would be a really, really bad idea this year,” said Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director.
Even limited family gatherings of more than 10 need to be “thought through carefully,” she added.
‘No longer safe’
The remarks by Walz and his health leaders painted an increasingly worrisome picture of an outbreak now driven more by people letting their guard down at family gatherings and celebrations, sporting events and informal meetups rather than at stores, restaurants and bars.
There have been more than 70 related outbreaks from weddings since June, and that's lead to more than 600 cases among those attending, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
The “vast majority” of COVID-19 spread is coming from these kinds of events, said Ehresmann. “Things that were relatively safe a month or two ago are no longer safe."
Minnesota reported nearly 1,600 new COVID-19 cases Monday, continuing an October with average new counts of more than 1,000 a day. The trend line of new daily cases appears to have flattened, although at a high level.
The average number of daily new hospitalizations, however, continues to climb. Average daily hospital admissions are now well above their prior late-May peak. Malcolm said that as of Sunday there were 582 people hospitalized in Minnesota due to COVID-19 — a 70 percent increase from the start of October.