Minnesota will report a record 56 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to Gov. Tim Walz.
Speaking on MPR News Wednesday morning, the governor said the Minnesota Department of Health's 11 a.m. update will contain some seriously worrying news for the state amid an ongoing surge in the virus.
As well as 56 deaths – which would beat the state's previous high of 36 on Nov. 6 – Walz says that MDH will also report a positivity rate of 20% Wednesday.
Minnesota's positivity rate – the number of positive tests divided by total tests – has been rising over the past few weeks, but 20% would be another significant spike and would be another sign that the virus' spread is out of control.
Walz announced measures that are designed to reduce the spread among younger adults in particular – who are thought to be the primary drivers of the disease's spread – including closing bars and restaurants at 10 p.m., limiting the size of wedding receptions and funerals to first 50 and then 25, and limiting the size of private gatherings to 10 people from 3 different households.
He stopped short of a return to the lockdown measures of the spring that saw bars, restaurants and non-essential retail shut down for more than two months, despite the state's hospitals running near capacity amid staffing shortages caused by the virus.
Speaking on MPR, Walz said that he wouldn't re-introduce the "Stay at Home" order unless neighboring states such as Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas – where COVID-19 levels are the worst in the nation – did the same, or if there was a national strategy
He described the "Stay at Home" order a "blunt instrument" and thinks there can be more effective measures that can be taken, and cited data that there is, for example, minimal transmission of the virus in retail spaces.
"To ask Minnesotans to do that while the surrounding states obviously will not do that would just bring the pain to us, and we would not get the movement that we need," he said.
Walz also said that while some state support is available to businesses impacted by the latest restrictions, further support would have to come from the federal government, which is yet to pass a new stimulus package. He once again criticized the federal government for not having a national strategy in place.