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Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Restaurants and bars open for outdoor service

Jun 01, 2020 06:13AM ● By Editor
Sisters Ifran, right, and Najat Omer stay at a distance while watching a protest last week over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Photo: Courtney Perry for MPR News

From Minnesota Public Radio News - June 1, 2020

The next phase of Gov. Tim Walz’s “stay safe” plan takes effect Monday, another loosening of coronavirus restrictions as the COVID-19 death toll has passed 1,000 in Minnesota and health officials expect a spike in cases related to mass protests over the police killing of George Floyd. 

Among the changes Monday, restaurants and bars are allowed to serve a limited number of guests for outdoor service, with social distancing required, and personal services like salons and tattoo shops can reopen with up to 25 percent capacity. 

If the loosened restrictions appear to cause a surge in cases, state leaders said they could tighten up once again. 

In addition to the slow reopening of Minnesota’s economy, health leaders are bracing for a separate increase in cases from large gatherings that have followed Floyd’s killing. 

Last week, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that while she understands the pain and anger people are feeling over Floyd’s killing and respects their desire to protest, she’s concerned that people gathering in the streets are at risk of getting the virus and transmitting it. 

Officials continue to pay close attention to the daily intensive care counts, a key metric, as they work to manage the spread of the disease so it doesn’t overwhelm the state’s health care system.

Here are the latest coronavirus statistics:

  • 24,850 cases confirmed via 249,519 tests

  • 1,040 deaths

  • 3,047 cases requiring hospitalization

  • 555 people remain hospitalized; 257 in intensive care

  • 18,695 patients no longer needing isolation

Developments from around the state

Meatpacking hot spots remain

Many of the recent outbreaks outside the Twin Cities metro area are focused around meatpacking plants. Officials have intensified testing in those hot spots, uncovering more infections.

In southwestern Minnesota’s Nobles County, where an outbreak hit Worthington’s massive JBS pork plant, about 1 in 15 people have tested positive for COVID-19. In mid-April, there were just a handful of cases. By Sunday, there were 1,539 confirmed cases, although the numbers are rising at a much slower rate than in previous weeks.

The JBS plant shut on April 20 but has since partially reopenedwith expanded hygiene and health monitoring measures.

Similar problems have been reported in Stearns County, where COVID-19 cases tied to two packing plants — Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Cold Spring and Jennie-O Turkey in Melrose — have skyrocketed.

An undisclosed number of workers at both plants have tested positive for the virus. There were about 55 confirmed cases in Stearns County two weeks ago. By Sunday, confirmed cases were at 2,021 with 13 deaths.

Kandiyohi County in west-central Minnesota is also seeing cases continue to climb more than a month after officials with the Jennie-O turkey processing plant there said some employees had tested positive for the coronavirus. The county had confirmed three COVID-19 cases then.

On Sunday, the Health Department reported 496 people have now tested positive.

While the counts in those counties are high relative to their population, officials say the growth in new cases in those areas appears to be stabilizing.

Top headlines

Restaurants reopen with restrictions as some hunger for more: Outdoor dining can resume Monday amid clamoring by restaurants to scale back remaining restrictions more quickly. Hair care businesses can also serve clients on a limited basis.

To read the original story and see related reporting, follow this link to the MPR News website.
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