Minneapolis is one of 11 cities identified by the White House Coronavirus Task Force that require "aggressive" steps to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a report on Wednesday.
The Center for Public Integrity reports that the warning came in a private call from Dr. Deborah Birx, who leads the task force, to state and local leaders on Wednesday, which was the result of the 11 cities seeing increases in the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests, with others including Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and New Orleans.
"The call was yet another private warning about the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreaks given to local officials but not the public at large," the report says, and comes a week after the Center for Public Integrity revealed a White House report that showed 18 states in the "red zone" for COVID-19 cases. Minnesota is not one of those states, though Iowa is.
Despite Minneapolis' apparent inclusion in Birx's warning, the latest figures from the City of Minneapolis appears to show that there hasn't been a significant spike in COVID-19 cases.
While cases have risen – as they have statewide – after a downturn in June, they have not risen to the highs seen in May as has been the case in many other states that have looser restrictions for businesses and gatherings.
That said, Minneapolis does not provide figures for the number of tests conducted, so we're unable to calculate what the percentage positive rate is in the city.
However, the latest data for Thursday showed that cases have been rising in Hennepin and Ramsey counties at a faster rate than other parts of the state in recent weeks.
Statewide, Minnesota is hovering around the 5 percent rate that the World Health Organization recommends is the safe level for businesses to continue operating.
Minneapolis has had a face mask requirement in place since May 26, but several of its bars or restaurants have either been linked to COVID-19 outbreaks among predominantly younger people, or have been warned for failing to adhere to face mask, social distancing, and 50 percent capacity requirements.
Birx reportedly told city leaders and managers to increase their contact tracing to get any potential spike in cases under control, noting that even a small rise in the percentage positive rate could lead to bigger spikes down the road.
The report didn't say if anyone from Minneapolis was on the call. BMTN has reached out for a comment.