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Video: Walz in 'hold pattern' on restrictions as Minnesota heads toward third COVID-19 surge

Apr 10, 2021 06:17AM ● By Editor

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Photo: Fox 9 News

By Theo Keith of KMSP-TV Fox 9 News - April 9, 2021

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he is not planning to impose new restrictions as the state heads into a third surge of COVID-19 infections.

Minnesota health officials reported 2,659 new cases on Friday, the most in a single day since Jan. 4. Hospitalizations have more than doubled over the past month, and Walz said a small number of hospital surge beds are in use for the first time since January.

At the same time, nearly 30 percent of Minnesota adults are now fully vaccinated against the virus. The governor has noted that when he last shut down businesses in late 2020, no one had been vaccinated.

"At this point in time, we're in a hold pattern," Walz said this week when asked about his plans.

The strategy around mitigation has shifted in recent months as the public has grown weary of the pandemic. In Michigan, which has the worst outbreak in the nation, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday called on high schools, youth sports and restaurants to shut down all in-person activity for two weeks. But unlike in the past, she did not mandate it.

Whitmer is asking President Joe Biden's administration to increase her state's vaccine allocation, a request that Biden has so far rejected.

Walz and other governors are talking about getting the Biden administration to surge vaccines into hotspot states, Walz told National Public Radio this week. The governor's spokesman confirmed the talks to FOX 9.

In Minnesota, more than 1.9 million people have now gotten at least one vaccine dose. Nearly 1.3 million are fully vaccinated, which is ninth in the country per capita among adults.

Minnesota counties with low vaccination rates are now seeing higher case rates, a FOX 9 analysis of state data indicates.

In Sherburne and Benton counties, just 27 percent of adults are vaccinated. In contrast, Cook County and Olmstead County have the state's highest vaccination rates, at 71 percent and 61 percent, respectively.

Health officials said they are reallocating some doses toward areas with increasing infection rates.

They also acknowledged that demand has slowed in some communities, while it remains highest in the Twin Cities metro.

"I think we’re a way away yet from the point when the supply really does exceed demand," Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters Thursday.

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