MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the statewide mask mandate is set to be lifted, Minnesota health officials reported Friday 1,306 new cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths.
Currently, just over 51% of Minnesotans 16 and older are fully vaccinated against the virus, and 61% have received their first vaccine dose. Also this week, children as young as 12 began receiving vaccine shots in Minnesota, as the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in children between 12 and 15.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: As Cases Dwindle, Community Spread Now Prime Source Of New Infections
The latest figures come a day after the Centers for Disease Control changed its guidelines on mask-wearing for those who are fully vaccinated. According to the updated guidelines, vaccinated individuals don’t have to wear masks in most settings, indoors or outdoors, nor do they need to practice social distancing.
The update, a significant departure from the previous CDC guidelines, prompted state officials to speed up the timeline for lifting the statewide mask mandate. Initially, the mandate was set to be lifted when 70% of Minnesotans 16 and older are vaccinated or by July 1, whichever came first.
With the CDC announcement, state officials moved the statewide mandate’s end to Friday. Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign an executive order officially lifting the mandate.READ MORE: Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer Says Unvaccinated Players Will Have 'A Hard Time'
Even so, certain cities, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, say they are still enforcing their mask mandates as local officials review public health data. Also, some businesses, such as Target and Edina’s Galleria shopping center, plan to still require customers to wear masks while in stores.
According to the latest update from health officials, Minnesota’s cumulative COVID-19 case count stands at 592,750 while the death toll has reached 7,283. In the last 24 hours, 36,823 tests were processed, suggesting a daily positivity rate of 3.5%.
The seven-day rolling average positivity rate dropped to 5.8% last week. While that’s still above what health officials consider the threshold for caution, it marks a further decline from a peak reached in early April, when the spread of the variant first reported in the U.K. pushed the average positivity rate to 7.5%.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In MN: 2nd Consecutive Day Of Under 100 New Cases Reported
While the positivity rate is declining, the rate of community spread is the highest it’s been since the start of the pandemic. Per the Dial Back Dashboard, the rolling seven-day average of the percent of cases with no known exposure was at 44% as of last week.