Gov. Walz, health officials provide update on state's COVID-19 response

Emily Ness
Updated: November 13, 2020 10:16 PM
Created: November 13, 2020 07:56 PM

Several months ago, health officials predicted that the darkest days of the pandemic were ahead of us. On Friday, Minnesota marked its deadliest week of COVID-19 to date, prompting Governor Tim Walz’s and other health officials to provide an update on the state’s response.

"I want to acknowledge that emotionally, this is getting very hard. We’ve lost 248 Minnesotans over the last seven days, we had 7200 new cases yesterday which are records we never want to break,” Governor Walz said.

To slow the spread of the virus, Governor Walz laid out new guidelines that go into effect Friday. The guidelines include closing dine-in service for restaurants and bars by 10:00pm and limiting all gatherings to 10 people or less.

“You cannot keep the economy open and you cannot get students and educators safely back into schools if you do not use the science to fight COVID-19,” Governor Walz said.

In a effort to improve contact tracing as well, Commissioner Jan Malcom with the Minnesota Department of Health said health officials will begin texting people who test positive in addition to calling them with the goal of gathering important information about their whereabouts and and providing guidance on quarantining.

"Each case that successfully isolates and quarantines can prevent dozens of people from contracting the disease,” Malcom said.

According to Malcom, positivity rates have jumped from 9.4% to 13.1% in the past week.

To prevent an influx of cases, hospitalizations and deaths with the coming of the holidays, health officials are encouraging the public to make alternative plans.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy for the University of Minnesota said it would be best to love and care for family from a distance this year.

“I have been involved in too many situations where young, healthy adults have come home for one or more celebrations, birthdays, whatever and transmitted the virus in the home and find that several weeks later, grandpa and grandma, or mom and dad, or uncle Bill and aunt Jane are dead,” Olsterholm said.

Even though not everyone will fall seriously ill or die, both Olsterholm and Malcom acknowledged that there are long term effects of COVID-19 they are still learning about. Therefore, they are asking the public to remain vigilant until we have a vaccine.

"I think the important message is to understand this is our COVID year. This is not going to be like last year, whether it be the holidays, whether it be every day life, and it will hopefully not be what its going to be like next year,” Olsterholm said.

"If we’re going to beat this thing, now is the time,” Governor Walz said.


Emily Ness

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