Coronavirus

Walz dials again virus restrictions in Minn.

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday introduced he could be dialing again some restrictions designed to sluggish the unfold of COVID-19 amid enhancing state statistical indicators of the pandemic.

The governor expanded numerical capacities of indoor non-public gatherings and celebrations, comparable to marriage ceremony receptions, from 10 folks to 50, although services should nonetheless function at solely 25% of their fireplace code capability. Equally, eating places can host 250 folks if area permits, however should function at not more than 50% of their capability. Eating places can also stay open till 11 p.m. as a substitute of 10 p.m.

“Our small companies have made monumental sacrifices for the well being of their staff and communities,” Walz stated. “Right now, we will make these cautious, widespread sense changes to help them due to the progress we’ve got made controlling the unfold of COVID-19 and getting essentially the most at-risk Minnesotans vaccinated.”

Walz’s announcement got here because the positivity fee of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 had dropped to three.9% — beneath the state warning threshold of 5% and nicely beneath the 15.6% mark on the peak of the newest wave of the pandemic on Nov. 10. The speed of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota additionally has fallen beneath the state’s high-risk benchmark.

Different adjustments embrace allowances for indoor leisure venues, swimming pools and gymnasiums to host as much as 250 folks, however not more than 25% of their fireplace code capability. They beforehand had been capped at 150 folks.

Outside gala’s and occasions stay capped at 250 folks. Walz’s order encourages organizers to contemplate drive-through options, which are not topic to caps or restricted hours of meals and beverage service.

The governor’s order confused that Minnesota is “not out of the woods,” particularly with the specter of extra infectious variants of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and that these adjustments include an elevated danger of viral transmission. A masks mandate for indoor public locations and social distancing necessities stay in impact.

The Minnesota Division of Well being on Friday reported 19 extra COVID-19 deaths and 1,058 extra recognized viral infections — bringing the state’s totals to six,362 deaths and 471,851 infections.

Eighteen of the 19 reported deaths concerned Minnesotans 65 or older, who’ve suffered 89% of the entire COVID-19 deaths within the state and are prioritized to obtain vaccines together with well being care employees, long-term care residents and educators.

The state on Friday reported continued progress in administering the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines — with 617,896 folks receiving not less than one dose and 189,902 of them finishing the two-dose sequence. The state has now acquired entry to 1.1 million whole doses of federally managed COVID-19 vaccine.

An anticipated provide of 87,925 first doses subsequent week is being distributed largely to well being care suppliers. They are going to obtain 39,625 doses to vaccinate senior residents in addition to any remaining well being care employees. One other 9,700 doses will go to state vaccine websites in Minneapolis, Duluth and Rochester, that are whittling down a closed ready record of greater than 220,000 seniors in search of vaccine.

One other 3,000 doses will go to tribal governments whereas 19,400 will go to native public well being businesses for vaccinations of lecturers and others. Pharmacies will obtain one other 16,200 doses to proceed offering pictures to residents of long-term care services and group properties, who’re at elevated danger of extreme COVID-19 as a consequence of their age and underlying well being situations.

State well being officers final summer season had recognized bars and eating places as main websites of group outbreaks that unfold COVID-19 of their communities. Additionally they discovered that viral transmissions had been extra seemingly late at night time when clients grew to become much less cautious.

Indoor service at bars and eating places was closed in late November and December amid a second wave of COVID-19 exercise, however resumed in January. The state has reported 14 bar and restaurant outbreaks in 2021, defining them as not less than 5 unrelated instances of COVID-19 involving folks from 5 households who had solely visited the identical institution prior to now month.

Sports activities has been linked to 35 group outbreaks to this point in 2021, regardless of crowd limits and masks necessities for coaches and athletes. Sports activities outbreaks are outlined as two or extra instances on the identical group inside 14 days of each other — with no different identified sources of viral transmission.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744

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