Gov. Tim Walz and some other Midwest governors are encouraging people to take extra precautions heading into the holiday season amid skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Walz joined Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to address Midwesterners, encouraging them to mask up to protect frontline healthcare workers, loved ones and others from COVID-19.
“For eight months, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated American families everywhere. To fight this virus, governors across the country have listened to medical experts, stepped up, and worked around the clock to protect our families, the brave men and women on the front lines, and our small business owners. And no matter the action we take, we understand that our fight against COVID-19 will be more effective when we work together,” the governors said in a statement.
“That is why this group of bipartisan governors is joining forces today to urge families across our region, and Americans everywhere, to do their part to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19. When it comes to fighting this virus, we are all on the same team," they added.
Here's the video the seven governors released:
This message comes as COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in much of the Midwest and hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, which has prompted health officials in Minnesota and elsewhere to advise people to only celebrate Thanksgiving with people they live with.
Notably, governors from Minnesota's neighbors in South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa were absent from the Midwest governors' mask-up message on Tuesday.
This isn't that surprising seeing as two of the three states only recently issued mask mandates and they weren't part of the Midwestern states' pact on reopening the economy back in April.
South Dakota is among just a few states that don't have a mask mandate. Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has been outspoken about her opposition to mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions, even as the state is now dealing with the country's highest positivity rate.
In North Dakota, which reportedly has the world's highest COVID-19 mortality rate, Gov. Doug Burgum issued mitigation measures on Friday, including a mask mandate that went into effect Monday and remains in effect until Dec. 13.
And in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds, who once said COVID-19 restrictions are "feel-good" measures, reversed course this week amid surging cases and hospitalizations and issued a mask mandate, which is in effect from Nov. 17-Dec. 10.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a scientific brief last week that recommends community-wide use of masks, noting wearing a cloth face-covering protects the wearer, not just other people, from the novel coronavirus.