Gov., MDH To Work On Adjusting State GuidanceBy WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz will sign an executive order Friday morning removing the state’s mask mandate following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walz made the announcement at a Thursday evening press conference. Earlier Thursday, the CDC issued new guidance saying fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.

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“We’re still analyzing everything that came out of this announcement,” Walz said, noting that for him personally, “It has been a challenge this year not to see folks smile … We’re excited about this.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday at a White House COVID-19 briefing that “anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or socially distancing.”

At Walz’s press conference, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said she has “mixed feelings” about the CDC’s announcement.

“We appreciate the CDC’s updating of their guidance for fully vaccinated people,” Malcolm said. “I think it’s just important that people understand what the guidance is … The CDC guidance remains and our MDH guidance will remain that people who are not vaccinated still are at risk.”

Walz’s spokesperson, Teddy Tschann, sent out a statement following the news.

“This is exciting news! The vaccines are working. Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health are reviewing the CDC’s announcement and working to update Minnesota’s COVID-19 guidance,” the governor’s office said.

Anyone who is vaccinated but develops symptoms should mask up and get tested, Walensky warned. She also warned that there’s always a chance the pandemic situation could worsen, and the nation may need to return to pieces of the earlier guidance.

Walensky also said that fully vaccinated people entering spaces where they don’t know the vaccination status of others, like at concerts, need not worry and can still be there mask-less. It’s a significant leap from previous CDC guidance.

The guidance doesn’t apply to health care settings, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices and long-term care facilities. It also doesn’t apply to correctional facilities or homeless shelters.

Municipalities will be able to keep enforcing their existing mandates. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says his city will keep its mandate in place pending the review of state health data.

“Minneapolis is nearing the end of this long journey, and our city is coming alive again — so we take this precaution to continue that consistent march in the right direction,” Frey said. “There is good reason for hope in the Twin Cities.”

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement Thursday evening that his city’s mandate will also stay in place for the time being.

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“The Governor’s announcement today is an exciting development that means we are finally starting to emerge from this pandemic,” Carter said. “I appreciate the continued diligence of our residents and businesses as we work with our public health professionals to determine when masking measures can be safely lifted at the local level.”

WCCO spoke to several people around Centennial Lakes who were thrilled about this update and some that feel this is happening too soon.

“I feel liberated,” Ruth Welter of Cottage Grove said. “I am so tired of masks … It’s hard to breathe and talk and they fog up your glasses.”

Carol and Dave Reitz of Edina are fully vaccinated, hoping their mask-free faces motivate more people to earn their mask freedom too.

“It’s so freeing especially coming right when the weather is getting nice and warm, it’s perfect,” Carol Reitz said.

“It gives other people an incentive to get vaccinated which is really what we want to accomplish,” Dave Reitz said.

The CDC guideline announced Thursday afternoon says people who are two weeks out from their last dose of the COVID vaccine don’t have to wear a mask indoors, don’t have to social distance anymore and don’t have to get tested for the virus unless they have symptoms.

However, people still need to follow the guidelines of private businesses that choose to enforce a mask mandate.

People also need to continue to wear their masks on public transportation like planes, trains and buses.

“Maybe it’s a little too soon,” Stacie from south Minneapolis said.

Stacie is cautiously optimistic and won’t be taking off her mask inside anytime soon.

“Inside I’ll just take my time and just put my feeler out,” she said.

Levi Treiber of Chaska and Miracle Thompson of Burnsville feel the same way, and even though they’re vaccinated, they plan to continue wearing a mask for now.

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“Honestly COVID still exists so like, everyone should just keep wearing their mask, because maybe people can lie and say, ‘I got vaccinated,’ and then they really didn’t just because they don’t want to wear their masks,” Thompson said.