As the race between COVID-19 variants of concern and vaccination continues, Gov. Tim Walz is not yet ready to impose any new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"At this point in time, we're in a hold pattern," Walz said this week, according to Fox 9.
Walz last imposed restrictions on social gatherings, restaurants, bars and places of entertainment before Minnesotans were being vaccinated in late 2020. Since the restrictions have been lifted or eased, the state is once again seeing rising numbers on the COVID-19 front.
The state has consistently reported more than 2,000 new cases a day for the past week, while the percent positive rate is climbing and hospitalizations are going in the wrong direction.
In the past month, hospitalizations have increased by 166.8% in Minnesota, going from 223 COVID-19 patients on Mar. 7 to nearly 600 on Apr. 8.
- Mar. 7: 223 (177 non-ICU, 46 ICU)
- Mar. 13: 255 (194 non-ICU, 61 ICU)
- Mar. 20: 324 (246 non-ICU, 78 ICU)
- Mar. 27: 356 (264 non-ICU, 92 ICU)
- Apr. 2: 439 (337 non-ICU, 112 ICU)
- Apr. 8: 595 (461 non-ICU, 134 ICU)
Minnesota is currently one of the nation's hot spots for accelerated COVID-19 spread, though the hottest spot in the country is Michigan, where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged people to stay home, social distance and wear masks, also calling on schools and restaurants to limit in-person activity for two weeks to slow the spread.
"To be very clear, these are not orders, mandates or requirements,” Whitmer said. “A year in, we all know what works and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together. Lives depend on it."
Like Minnesota, the B.1.1.7 variant is leading the surge in Michigan – and it's happening despite Michigan vaccinating residents at approximately the same rate as Minnesota.
Data from the Michigan Department of Health shows that 39.7% of the state's more than 8 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that 35% of the state's 5.6 million people have received at least one shot.
Per the data, 83.3% of Minnesotans aged 65-plus have had at least one dose, while 47.1% of people aged 50-64 have had one or more shot.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, believes Minnesota isn't far behind Michigan in terms of cases surging.
"I would project right now with where things are at, in 2-3 weeks we could be seeing much higher numbers than our 2,400 cases a day here in Minnesota," Osterholm said this week on WCCO Radio.