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Live updates: Gov. Walz outlines next phase of reopening Minnesota

Here are the latest developments on the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota.
Credit: KARE

Wednesday, May 20 

  • Gov. Tim Walz to allow limited outdoor seating at restaurants
  • Salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors can open with a maximum capacity of 25% 
  • Health officials reported 29 additional deaths in the last 24 hours
  • Officials reported 645 new cases in the last day, bringing the state total to 17,670

3 p.m.

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Tim Walz announced that restaurants can offer outdoor seating beginning June 1. According to state officials, people must keep six feet of distance between each other and keep their parties to four people or less, or up to six people if they're relatives. The capacity at the restaurant can't exceed 50 people.

Reservations will be required and masks must be worn by restaurant employees. Masks are also "strongly recommended" to patrons.

Salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors will also be allowed to reopen with limitations. Gov. Walz is also asking for them to take temperatures of employees and patrons if they have the capacity to do so. Six feet of distance is required with a maximum capacity of 25%. Appointments are required and masks are required by employees and customers.

Campgrounds and charter boats will be allowed to reopen on June 1 with specific guidelines from the Minnesota DNR.

Officials also unveiled the next phase of reopening, but no specific date has been set. That next phase will include gatherings of up to 20 people with an increased capacity for retail stores, salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors, and indoor dining for restaurants with capacity restrictions and social distancing guidelines. The new phase will also allow outdoor services for up to 100 people for places of worship with social distancing guidelines. This includes weddings, funerals and any other religious services.

Full guidelines for the phased reopening are available on the state's website.

People are also being asked to continue to work from home if they're able to.

“If you are a business that can telework, you must telework,” Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said.

Gov. Tim Walz also addressed testing, and said the state has the capacity to test 10,000 people per day, but the number of people requesting tests haven't reached that number.

"Anybody with any symptoms should be getting tested but that volume has not materialized as quickly as we frankly thought," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "This next step of creating mobile testing sites and going to the people is where we need to go."

11 a.m.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported 645 new cases and 29 more deaths in the last 24 hours.

The number of total positive cases is now 17,670. A total of 167,338 tests have been completed in the state.

Of the total positive cases, 2,205 are healthcare workers.

There are now 12,227 patients who no longer require isolation.

The total amount of deaths is at 777 with 635 of them among patients who resided in long-term care or assisted living facilities. Nine deaths are listed as probable COVID-19 deaths, which means COVID-19 is listed on the death certificate but there is not a positive test documented for the person.

A total of 2,308 cases require hospitalization and 550 of them are hospitalized as of today. There are 212 patients in the ICU as of today too.

The age group with the most cases is 30-39 years old with 3,542 cases and three deaths. Those 20-29 years old are the next largest group with 3,128 testing positive for the virus.

Patients ages 70 and older account for 640 of the deaths in the state.

In terms of likely exposure to coronavirus, MDH says 3,759 cases involve exposure in a congregate living setting, 2,905 cases had known contact with a person who has a confirmed case, 2,784 cases had community transmission with no known contact with an infected person and 630 cases were linked to travel. Statistics say 937 of the positive cases are health care workers. The source of transmission is unknown for 6,655 cases.

MDH has prioritized testing for people in congregate care, hospitalized patients and health care workers, which may impact the scale of those numbers.
Hennepin County has the most cases in the state at 5,838, with 485 deaths, followed by Ramsey County with 1,846 cases and 80 deaths, then Stearns County with 1,831 cases and 11 deaths.

Tuesday, May 19 

  • MDH reports single-day high in hospitalizations
  •  DVS opens drivers exam stations to long lines, health checks
  • AG Keith Ellison sues tavern owner over plans to reopen against state guidelines
  • MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm urges Minnesotans to continue social distancing in a "new normal"

2 p.m.

Five hundred forty-five Minnesotans are currently in the hospital with COVID-19, after the highest one-day jump in hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said on the department's daily update call that while they reported an increase of 57 additional hospitalizations Tuesday, the number of people in the ICU remained steady at 229.

"It's certainly notable," Malcolm said of the increase in hospitalized patients. "It is a big jump."

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said with COVID-19 patients, there may be mild symptoms at first and then severe symptoms days later. She said the increase this week, therefore, could actually be linked to a higher number of new cases identified last week.

Tuesday, May 19 is the first day that Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags at state and federal buildings to be flown at half-staff to honor the victims of the virus. That will continue on the 19th day of every month through 2020. 

Ehresmann urged parents to continue taking their children in for their well-child check-ups.

Malcolm said that anyone who is symptomatic should be able to get a diagnostic test for COVID-19 at this point. Antibody tests, while useful for showing society-level trends, are not necessarily helpful at the individual level at this time, according to Malcolm.

Those antibody tests, also called serology tests, show whether someone has COVID-19 antibodies and may have already been exposed to the virus. There is hope that these tests will help to show some kind of immunity against coronavirus, but MDH warned that it is not "actively promoting" antibody tests at this time.

"We don't know what it means in terms of the duration of protection and how much antibody is necessary, what type of a result is sufficient to say you really have some level of protection," Ehresmann said. "There are many, many tests out there that are not FDA approved."

"It's not that there isn't a place for antibody testing and it won't have an important role," Ehresmann said, but right now MDH is focusing on diagnostic testing.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and see what companies in Minnesota are hiring. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.