MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota health officials are pointing the finger at neighboring states for making the pandemic worse here.

They believe few restrictions in the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin have added up to more COVID-19 cases in Minnesota. Now, those states are changing their messaging as cases surge.

A Midwest governor’s group, including Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, put out a message to the press ahead of the holidays

“We have case rates climbing in the upper Midwest and into the Dakotas higher than any place on the planet at any time during this pandemic,” Walz said. “Our economies are interconnected, and our people travel back and forth across these borders.”

The governors, including Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, hope people will soon get on the same page.

“This holiday season, the best way to show those that you love that you care about them is to stay home and stay away,” Evers said.

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On the day Wisconsin marked its highest daily death toll from COVID-19, at 92 people, Republicans and Democrats seem to still be struggling to get on the same page. Wisconsin has not passed any legislation since April, and Republicans have pushed back against all executive orders in the past.

Tom Hanson is an anchor for KELOLAND News in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“Right now we have 18,600 active cases of COVID. That’s more people than maybe six or seven towns in South Dakota,” Hanson said.

He says some restrictions are being passed in his state.

“Tonight the Sioux Falls City Council will be taking up that issue again, and we heard from our mayor, Paul TenHaken, and he says that he believes a mask mandate will probably pass tonight,” Hanson said.

And in a sudden reversal, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has now issued the state’s first mask mandate. More rules also limit indoor gatherings to no more than 15 people. Bars and restaurants can’t stay open for in-person service past 10 p.m., and all non-high school youth sports are suspended.

Iowa has seen more than 52,000 new cases over last two week, which is the same number the state saw from the beginning of March to mid-August.

Lina Tucker Reinders is executive director for the Iowa Public Health Association.

“This is a disaster. We need people to realize that this isn’t all for one, one for all,” Reinders said.

Liz Collin

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