MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Shortly after Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday his three-step timeline for lifting the remaining COVID-19 restrictions, state health officials reported 1,661 more cases of the virus and 13 more deaths.
The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health shows the state’s cumulative case count stands at 584,227 while the death toll has surpassed 7,200. In the last 24 hours, 38,259 tests have been processed, suggesting a daily positivity rate of 4.3%.
Over the past few weeks, the state’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate has dropped from a peak of 7.4% reached early last month, when a COVID variant first documented in the U.K. was spreading rapidly in Minnesota. While the positivity rate remains above the 5% “caution” threshold, it appears to be steadily dropping, according to the latest data from last week.
Ahead of the governor’s announcement Thursday, the state marked a significant milestone: More than 2 million Minnesotans are now fully vaccinated against the virus. Meanwhile, nearly 60% of Minnesotans 16 and older have received their first vaccine shot. In total, nearly 4.5 million vaccine shots have been administered in the state.
According to the governor’s plan to ease the remaining restrictions, once 70% of Minnesotans 16 and older are inoculated against the virus, the state’s mask mandate will be lifted. The governor’s office says the state is on track to reach this benchmark by the end of June. Even so, if the 70% benchmark isn’t reached, the mask mandate will still end on July 1.
The governor also announced that starting this week there’ll be no limits or mask requirements for outdoor events with fewer than 500 people. Additionally, the 11 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars will be lifted beginning Friday.
At the end of the month, the capacity, distancing and mask requirements will end for indoor events and gatherings. However, masks will still be required for indoor events with more than 500 people.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 4 million people in Minnesota have been tested for the virus. Of those who tested positive, 563,364 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.