Walz: No plans to close Minnesota borders, despite Midwest COVID spread

Updated: October 27, 2020 09:17 AM

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he has no plans to close the state's borders or restrict travel, despite a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases across the Upper Midwest.

Wisconsin and the Dakotas have some of the highest infection rates in the country as of mid-October. 

"We are one nation. We are not the Articles of Confederation. These are our neighbors. They are Americans, they're our relatives," Gov. Walz (DFL) said. 

He said he knows people often travel back and forth between states. 

"I just want to be clear: This isn't about casting blame. It's just that different decisions were made," he said. "And I think when the story of COVID is written and the facts are out there, certain decisions were made. And certainly not every one we made has been correct. But I do think some of those basic things on the slowing of transmission like mask mandates, those have made somewhat of a difference."

Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Diseases Director Kris Ehresmann reminded that Minnesota has high and growing rates of community transmission too. And she asked people to be as careful as possible. 

"Fewer people means less risk. But it doesn't mean no risk. Outside means less risk, but it doesn't mean no risk. Masks mean less risk but not no risk," Ehresmann said during a Monday briefing. "That's why we say the more layers of protection you build in, the better off you are." 

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said more than 70 COVID-19 outbreaks have been associated with weddings. And she said the case growth from mid-September to mid-October was almost four times higher than mid-August to mid-September. Malcolm said that's not just a result of testing more but also of disease prevalence. 

Walz said he does not see a "Shelter in Place" order as a long-term solution, especially because health officials haven't linked much virus transmission to retail settings. 

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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