By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As cities in Minnesota have taken action to combat the surge in COVID-19 cases, there are no statewide mandates in place.

On Thursday, average positivity rate in Minnesota breached 20% for the first time since the start of the pandemic. In the last two weeks, cases in the state have tripled.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have reinstated mask mandates, as have other Twin Cities suburbs and Duluth. The mayors of the two largest cities in the state also announced this week that those heading to bars, restaurants and venues will need to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test.

Gov. Tim Walz is staying clear of any statewide mandates to address the surge in cases attributed to the highly-contagious Omicron variant. He said that the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul made a decision that “fits where they’re at” with the virus spreading rapidly in highly-concentrated areas.

At the Mall of America vaccination site on Thursday, WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy asked the governor when he thought Minnesota would see peak Omicron cases, as states like New York have recently announced.

“I am not prepared to say that here that we have hit the peak,” Walz said. “I think we are in the worst of it. I just don’t think it’s going to alleviate itself for 10 to 14 days.”

At the Bloomington mall, families were taking advantage of the state’s offer of a $200 VISA card for kids ages 5-11 getting vaccinated. The Whitman family from Bloomington just missed the age incentive but were glad to get booster shots.

“Everyone is getting COVID, and I really don’t want COVID,” said 12-year-old Josie Whitman. “I haven’t gotten it yet and I want to keep it like that.”

Esme Murphy