With the Fourth of July holiday weekend upon us, the Minnesota Department of Health is urging people to celebrate a little differently to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
"July 4 is often a time to gather with friends and family and we know how tempting it is to feel like we can go back to normal – especially when we're celebrating – but we need to remind Minnesotans we need to be in a new normal and to continue to stay vigilant this weekend to protect ourselves and our loved ones and indeed our entire community," MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said during a call with reporters on Wednesday.
MDH is encouraging people to choose to celebrate the holiday with members of their own household and to take advantage of virtual gatherings if they want to hang out with larger groups of people.
If people do plan to gather with family and friends, MDH recommends keeping group sizes limited and to gather outside because it's a "better environment" for limiting the spread of the disease, Malcolm said.
Wherever you celebrate, people should social distance and wear a mask when social distancing is difficult.
"It's so important that we take advantage of the opportunity to be outside, be celebrating, be with family and friends, but we really want to reinforce the important message for all of us to stay vigilant about COVID-19 during this holiday weekend," Malcolm said.
MDH to young people: 'You're not invincible'
Malcolm in the call with reporters wanted to remind young people that they are "not invincible" and neither are their loved ones.
The median age of COVID-19 cases continues to fall, trending younger with the median age now 38.9 – that's down almost 2.5 years in the month of June, Malcolm said.
So, if you plan on going to a bar or a restaurant be sure to "spread out," Malcolm said, adding that bargoers should wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer.
There are now about 300 cases associated with bars, the state said. And Gov. Tim Walz has threatened that if people don't follow guidelines, bars and restaurants won't be able to stay open.