Skip to main content

Gov. Tim Walz: Minnesota at a 'critical point' in COVID-19 fight

Gov. Walz is imploring people to go and get tested for the virus.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Gov. Tim Walz has urged Minnesotans not to abandon basic preventative measures for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 as the state enters what he described as a "critical juncture" in the fight against the virus.

With cases, hospitalizations and deaths having been on the rise again during October, the governor is warning that the state faces a "long, dark winter" if the state suddenly starts seeing the exponential growth in cases seen in the likes of Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

While acknowledging that "COVID fatigue is real," he appealed to Minnesotans to continue taking the basic steps to avoid greater transmission of the virus: staying home if you're ill, wearing face masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, re-thinking smaller family gatherings, and to get tested even at the slightest chance you've been exposed.

Testing, he says, is the key to preventing the spread of COVID-19, and it's particularly vital to identify the asymptomatic carriers of the virus who may be unknowingly infecting others, with community transmission – where the source of a person's infection is unknown – now accounting for 78% of new cases in Minnesota in October

Walz's comments come after he met with Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House adviser on COVID-19, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on Saturday.

"We're at a critical point in our COVID fight," Walz said. "Testing is the key to stopping this virus spread. Dr. Birx could not have been clearer that the Upper Midwest is at a critical juncture, and her assessment was that Minnesota still possesses the capacity to stop what's happening in surrounding states.

"I've been saying since March we knew in for long, dark winter, and I said in August potential for fall comeback is great if not able to do certain things right.

"We know what we can do to slow the spread ... we can't overwhelm our hospitals, we can't assume therapeutics will take care of it, or that a vaccine will come, so we're going to have to ask ... avoid large gatherings, think about them even with family that may seem safe, wear a mask, social distance, and test test test.

"We have the capacity to write a different story for Minnesota, but it's going to take all of us."

Follow Bring Me The News on News Break

Minnesota has been ramping up its testing capacity and in the coming months will roll out a statewide saliva testing service that will allow people to request and return tests via the mail. When that is fully rolled out, the state will have the capacity to process more than 60,000 tests a day.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that case growth and hospitalizations are growing fastest in western Minnesota, where she says there is "more resistance" to avoiding large gatherings, social distancing and masking.

Both Walz and Malcolm said that Minnesota is below the national average when it comes to mask wearing, though it's not clear what data this is based on.

And Kris Ehresmann, the MDH director of infectious diseases, said: "It's worth emphasizing the point that social gatherings, small and large, are really what's contributing this spread.

"To be clear, there is a lower risk with smaller groups, but that doesn't mean there's no risk. Things that may have been relatively safe a month or two ago may no longer be safe."

You can find MDH's service to determine whether you need a test or not here.

Next Up

south st paul mayor twitter 2

'Just took this': MN mayor tweeting others' pics says it's for 'entertainment'

The mayor told Bring Me The News his goal on Twitter is to spread joy.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 19

More than 44,000 new cases reported from the holiday weekend.

rise bagel co

Bagel shop closes amid vax-or-test mandate, posts: 'All are welcome here'

Other Twin Cities restaurants have also temporarily closed this week.

Rick Spielman

Spielman: 'It was constantly like a moving target all the time'

Spielman said drafting and rostering players who fit the scheme was difficult with all of the offensive coordinators Mike Zimmer had.

police lights

Suspect fled police, found hiding in old camper in scrap yard

Police say they were trying to pull him over for driving without any lights.


Omicron fading in Minnesota? Wastewater detection provides hope

Wastewater samples can help predict a rise or fall in COVID-19 cases.

covid vaccine card

COVID: Minneapolis, St. Paul vaccine-or-test rule for dining now in effect

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test are required.

freight train railroad tracks

Man crawls to safety before train hits his stuck wheelchair

The incident happened Tuesday on Highway 169.

US Bank Stadium

Sizing up Vikings coaching candidates we know about so far

A closer look at some of the head coaching candidates interviewed by the Vikings

St. Paul police

St. Paul: Man called police to report he killed his wife

Police are also investigating a separate fatal shooting in the Frogtown neighborhood.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves survive Knicks' second-half barrage to get back to .500

Karl-Anthony Towns' lay-in helped Minnesota get a win in The Garden.


Tim Walz

Gov. Walz tells Minnesotans: The time to beat COVID-19 is now

The governor is pleading with Minnesotans to play their part as the state enters its darkest hour in the battle against COVID-19.

Governor Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz extends Minnesota's COVID-19 peacetime emergency

The order is likely to be challenged in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Governor Tim Walz

Coronavirus: Gov. Tim Walz to hold press conference on Friday

The governor will provide an update on Minnesota's response to the coronavirus.

Governor Tim Walz

Coronavirus: Gov. Walz to provide latest update at Monday press conference

It's possible that a statement on elective surgeries will be forthcoming.

Governor Tim Walz

Coronavirus: Gov. Tim Walz to hold Wednesday press conference

He's expected to announce guidance for the reopening of Minnesota restaurants and bars.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz says Minnesota will report 56 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday

When confirmed, it will be the highest single-day death count so far.