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29 Minnesota restaurants tied to COVID-19 outbreaks so far, officials say

Health officials decide transmission at the restaurant itself was likely when at least seven patients say they only went to one establishment.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says 29 restaurants in the state have been tied to COVID-19 outbreaks so far in the pandemic.

On Friday, KARE 11 obtained the list of restaurants. MDH only provided the names of restaurants where at least seven people who tested positive for COVID said they only visited that one establishment. That is the factor MDH uses to determine whether transmission likely occurred at the restaurant itself.

The restaurants are not removed from the list after the outbreaks occur, so MDH says most of them "no longer have detectable transmission to patrons."

MDH is still "actively monitoring" the most recent four, although they clarified that does not mean the restaurants have active transmissions. Those restaurants are: Crave in downtown Minneapolis, American Legion Post 145 in Howard Lake, VFW Post 9433 in Rosemount, and Texas Roadhouse in Coon Rapids.

MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said health officials also keep an eye on case counts for a month after each restaurant is identified.

Ehresmann said they started tracking this issue June 1, when bars and restaurants reopened, and the first outbreaks were around the weekend of June 12.

Rounders in Mankato has had the most total cases at 118, followed closely by The Pickled Loon in St. Cloud with 117 cases. Those two restaurants also had the most cases where the person said they only went to one establishment.

RELATED: COVID-19 clusters linked to 4 bars in Minneapolis, Mankato

Fourteen of the restaurants are in Minneapolis, and only one - Billy's on Grand - is in St. Paul.

Some, like Maynards, Lord Fletcher's, CoV and Union Rooftop to name a few, have substantial outdoor seating. MDH reported that Excelsior's lakeside Maynards had 42 cases, 30 of which reported that they didn't visit any other establishments.

Kris Ehresmann said Friday that they make the information public because they can't reach out to everyone who has visited the restaurant individually.

"The point of making this information known is not necessarily to vilify the establishment but to make sure that people are aware," Ehresmann said. "Certainly if you were present at some of these places and you recognize that the social distancing and masking … was not being followed and you now have symptoms, definitely you should be tested."

Ehresmann acknowledged that an outbreak does not necessarily mean that a restaurant did anything wrong.

"We also are aware of situations in which, in doing the interviews, we learned that there really are problems with how the restaurant is not following guidelines," she said.

The state health department has said that they are working with restaurants to help educate them on the guidelines in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. They have also said they are stepping up enforcement measures.

Gov. Tim Walz closed down restaurants to all on-site dining early on in the pandemic, and gradually began lifting restrictions. Now restaurants are allowed to have guests indoors and outdoors with limited capacity and social distancing requirements.

At the end of July, Minneapolis Mayor Frey re-introduced stricter measures on bars and restaurants in the city limits, saying that customers cannot be served at the actual bar. They have to order drinks from their table, to avoid clustering at the bartop.

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