MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hours after capacity and distancing restrictions were lifted in Minnesota, state health officials on Friday reported 364 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths.
The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that the cumulative case count stands at 600,767 while the death toll has climbed to 7,408.
Since early April, the rates for new infections and hospitalizations have steadily declined. Also declining is the average positivity rate, which was down last week to 4%, a full percentage point below what health officials consider the threshold for caution.
In the last 24 hours, 21,250 tests were processed in Minnesota, suggesting a daily positivity rate of 1.7%.
On the vaccine front, nearly 58% of Minnesotans 16 and older are fully inoculated against the virus. The state is aiming to vaccinate 70% of the population by July 1.
Gov. Tim Walz and health officials say that the more Minnesotans get vaccinated, the sooner life will return to normal this summer.
A significant step towards normalcy was taken at midnight, when building capacity limits and social distancing restrictions were lifted, thus allowing Minnesotans to stand closer together after more than a year apart. Still, certain cities, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, are retaining some restrictions, such as indoor mask mandates.
Also on Friday, the governor announced yet another campaign to incentivize Minnesotans to get the vaccine. The latest initiative, called “Cheers to the Vaccine,” has craft breweries and distilleries offering free and discounted drinks to vaccinated adults.
Earlier this month, the state partnered with Minnesota sport teams, such as the Twins and the Wild, to offer free vaccine shots a Target Field and Xcel Energy Center, among other venues.