Minnesota will be under enhanced COVID-19 restrictions for four weeks beginning at 11:59 p.m. Friday, but what will it take to have the order lifted rather than extended when it's set to expire Dec. 18?
"The positive impacts of these moves should show up in the three- and four-week timeframe," Minnesota Health Commissioner JanMalcolm said. She and other public health leaders will be looking for are:
- Hospital admission rates stabilizing or dropping at that point.
- See a drop in the average cases per population.
- See test positivity rate come down.
"If test positivity starts stabilizing and dropping that will be a very good sign," said Malcolm.
Minnesota kept the test positivity rate around 5% over the summer but it has basically tripled in the past month-and-a-half and as of Nov. 17 it is up to 15.4%. The World Health Organization advised in May that the percent positive remains below 5% to keep the economy fully operational.
The reason the latest mandates from Walz, which target sports, fitness centers, bars, restaurants and social gatherings, is that it's the ideal timeframe for seeing if a tactic works, according to Malcolm.
"Two incubation cycles, two generations of potential transmission," she said. "It's good to give a full four weeks to measure the impact of something."
She said the next few weeks are guaranteed to be dire because the cases have already been identified.
Walz also expressed a hope that by the end of the four-week period, the U.S. will be commencing its vaccination rollout after promising results from trials by Pfizer and Moderna, both of which have said they hope to have tens of millions of doses available by the end of the year.