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COVID-19 RESPONSE: State and health leaders say the time to act is now

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) — Minnesota state leaders and health officials say the time to act is now.

“We’re at a critical point in our COVID-19 fight in Minnesota and the country, quite frankly,” Gov. Tim Walz said during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing call.

Just as the holidays are approaching, state leaders say that the next six to 12 weeks will be the most crucial in Minnesota’s effort to combat the virus. This, after the White House’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, paid a visit to the Med City over the weekend. She brought grave concerns about the state’s rapidly growing virus infection rate.

“We have a deep concern about Minnesotans at this moment,” Birx said in Saturday’s press conference.

Those worries extending to the entire upper Midwest.

“She couldn’t have been more clearer,” Walz said. “The upper Midwest is at a critical junction. Her assessment was that the state of Minnesota — and potentially the state of Illinois — still possess the capacity to stop what is happening in surrounding states.”

Specifically, states on the eastern and western borders. Currently, it’s those states that have the highest infection rates on the planet.

Community spread in Minnesota is at an all time high. Since October, community transmission has accounted for 78 percent of cases. Also in the same month, the state has seen record breaking cases numbers. Hospitalizations have increased 70 percent since the start of October.

“We need to take action right away,” Walz said.

While testing is going up, case positivity rate is also going up. Monday it sat at 6.8 percent. Last week it was 5.8 percent. The rise indicates more testing is not the result of a rise in cases.

Health officials says the biggest contributor of community spread are social gatherings.

“Things that may have been relatively safe a month or two ago, may not be safe anymore,” Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said.

“That’s what’s causing the spread. It’s many different types of transmission events,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm echoed. “Social gatherings, parties, celebrations, ceremonies. Just gathering with friends and family without taking those health precaution is what’s happening all over the state.”

Walz is pleading with Minnesotans to take safety precautions.

“We can write a different story on what COVID-19 does in Minnesota. But it’s going to take all of us,” Walz said.

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CBS 3 Duluth

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