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State may ‘dial back’ if case climb continues

With more than 2,000 new cases confirmed over the past few days, authorities implored Minnesotans to stay vigilant, wear masks and keep social distancing so the state does not suffer the problems seen now in Florida, Texas and other states struggling to control outbreaks.

“We’re not asking Minnesotans to mask up for the Health Department,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters. “We’re asking them to mask up for their own health.”

Compliance with the Minnesota’s statewide mask order is critical, she added: “We do feel like we’re in sort of a vulnerable state. But we feel like if Minnesotans can understand the importance of complying with the guidance that is out there and the current executive orders, we can impact these rates within a few weeks.”

Her remarks came hours after the latest Health Department statistics on COVID-19 offered a mixed bag of hope and concern, with daily death counts staying in single digits even as cases jump.

Current hospitalizations fell from the prior day — but the number hospitalized and needing intensive care rose to its highest point in three weeks. Officials in recent weeks have been bracing Minnesotans to expect more hospitalizations and ICU cases as new confirmed cases of the disease jumped.

Malcolm indicated officials were increasingly concerned about the rise in community spread of the disease.

Added Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious disease director: “There could be a time when we do need to dial back if the things that we’re seeing continue to go in an unfavorable manner.”

While Minnesota’s mask mandate took effect Saturday, Ehresmann said it would be several weeks before officials could assess its impact.