Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz shared his concerns about the surge of COVID-19 cases in the Midwest on CNN Tuesday, criticizing the lack of a national strategy to get the virus under control.
Walz told "Out Front" host Erin Burnett positivity rates have crept "way up" in several states in the upper Midwest recently, noting in Minnesota the rate had been right around 5% until the last week or so, but now it's going up.
As of Tuesday, Minnesota has had 125,531 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,246 deaths.
Burnett noted Minnesota is one of several states seeing its highest seven-day average of cases as of Monday. Nationwide on Monday, the country's seven-day average of new daily cases was above 58,300 – a level not seen since early August, CNN reported.
"We see some of the highest case counts in the Dakotas and Wisconsin and others, and we're moving back inside – we got half a foot of snow today (Tuesday), people will be moving back inside," Walz said. "We still need to have that national strategy to tackle this through testing, contact tracing and doing all of the fundamentals."
This comes as Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said the U.S. is about a week away from a rapid acceleration of COVID-19 cases.
Burnett asked Walz about this prediction, seeing as cases are currently rising in Minnesota. Walz said he believes it, noting the virus has become more predictable "but human behavior is not." The governor mentioned things like people not wearing masks despite the state's mandate and people, including Republican lawmakers, pushing for regulations to be removed and allowing people to manage things themselves.
"It's inevitable that you're going to see this growth," Walz said. "... that tipping point that he's (Gottlieb) talking about is setting in in a lot of states in the Upper Midwest.
"So yes, we're really nervous, we're stressing to folks to do the things that make a difference," Walz added, such as washing hands, wearing a mask, socially distancing and getting tested for the virus.
Walz attributed some of Minnesota's cases to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota over the summer, which has been called a superspreader event, but said a lot of cases stem from family gatherings, like weddings, funerals and backyard events.
"These are all things that are really important to people, but in a time of a pandemic we simply have to shut this thing down – this has drug on longer than it should have had we followed those basic principles of epidemiology," Walz said.
Walz, though, said he's worried about the upcoming holidays, saying, "It's a tough time right now and I think it's going to only get tougher here, and we have not hit flu season yet."
Throughout the interview, Walz stressed the need for a national strategy to respond to the virus and called for listening to the experts, saying "This should have never become as political as it is."
"I'm listening to my experts at Mayo, at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and again, here we are, seven months into this, and we've done it as poorly as any place on earth. We've lost nearly a quarter-million of our neighbors. We just need to stop this, we need to focus on what it's going to take. Help us, help the states ... we've built 50 different testing strategies and we've all competed against one another – we have one state that has a rule and the next one across doesn't, people travel back and forth for work across those state lines.
"So we need to listen to Dr. Fauci, we need to listen to the experts, we need to have a national strategy, we need to hunker down and beat this thing and any wishful thinking is not going to get it – science will get it."