MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is expected to announce that, starting Friday, gyms will have to close and that restaurants and bars will have to go to take-out only. He’s also expected to pause youth sports and high school sports beginning Saturday, WCCO’s Esme Murphy reports.
Further details on the restrictions are expected in the governor’s announcement at 6 p.m., which will be streaming on CBSN Minnesota.
Late Wednesday morning, state health officials reported 5,102 more cases of COVID-19 in the state and 67 more deaths, marking the highest daily number of fatal cases ever recorded in the state.
According to Minnesota Department of Health data, the new infections tallied bring the state’s total number of cases to 242,043. The additional fatalities bring the state’s death toll to 3,010. The newly reported deaths ranged in age from late 50s to over 100 years old.
The governor and the state’s health department held a news conference Tuesday where Minnesotans affected by the virus spoke out. Walz said that there is a danger of running short of health care workers.
“The velocity that this is moving now compared to any other time is simply stunning,” Walz said. “It would be easy to tell you this is going to be over but it is not. It’s going to be a very difficult four weeks.”
On restrictions, Walz said Tuesday that he has no choice because the current increase in COVID-19 cases in the state is unsustainable. The state also reported on Tuesday that more than 1,600 people are hospitalized with the virus — the highest number since the pandemic began.
A number of statements were issued Wednesday morning and afternoon in anticipation of Walz’s announcement, including Hospitality Minnesota:
“Today’s action will push many small restaurants, foodservice and other hospitality businesses over the cliff. Hospitality Minnesota is calling for immediate financial assistance from the State or these businesses will not be here in four weeks. The vast majority of hospitality businesses have taken every step asked of them by the state throughout the pandemic, resulting in significant financial investments in new equipment and PPE as revenue plummeted. They have done this in order to survive, keep people employed and continue contributing to our economy. We call on state leaders to act immediately to provide significant state financial aid to this devastated industry; we cannot wait for the feds to act in February or beyond.”
Also, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association called the news “heartbreaking,” adding “the impact will be devastating. It will most certainly mean significant increased unemployment and further permanent loss of our bars and restaurants across Minnesota. The hospitality industry has shifted and invested heavily to protect both staff and patrons, and is still barely afloat. The short timeline we are now given for indoor closure will also result in unused inventory left to perish and leave small businesses further in the red.”
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Over the last few weeks, there’s been a surge of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, with daily case records broken every few days. In just the last week, four days have seen daily new case numbers over 7,000. So dramatic has the increase in cases been that health officials are now urging Minnesotans to limit Thanksgiving celebrations to their own households.
To further bolster the argument for more restrictions, Walz included those on the call who have been hit personally with COVID-19, including former Republican State Rep. Nick Zerwas, who is still recovering. Zerwas made it clear he’d been against the governor’s shutdowns and restrictions before. Not any more.
This is a developing story, so check back for more. WCCO will have the governor’s announcement on-air and streaming on CBSN Minnesota at 6 p.m.
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Source: CBS Minnesota