Dip in Daily Cases as Walz Weighs Statewide Mask Order


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota reported 499 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus on Monday, with a dip in the positivity rate, as Gov. Tim Walz continues weighing whether to impose a statewide mask requirement.

Monday’s total came after Minnesota reported more than 800 cases on Saturday — its highest case count since May — and 715 on Sunday. Monday’s numbers often show a dip because fewer people are tested on weekends.

The state’s numbers amounted to a 4.2 percent positivity rate. The state’s rolling 14-day average for positivity rate is 5.1 percent; a rising positivity rate is an indication of community spread.

As coronavirus cases roar upward in some parts of the U.S., many states are considering whether to require masks, which health experts say can help to reduce the chances of transmission. Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said Monday he opposes a statewide mandate.

Gazelka said people should be free to make their own decisions on whether to wear masks and under what circumstances, such as whether they’re in crowded indoor places where social distancing is hard, or whether they’re outside where problems seem to be fewer.

“I think mandating it is a mistake. I think encouraging people to be responsible for their health and the health of others is a good idea,” Gazelka said.

Gazelka said he’s focused on hospitalizations and deaths. Minnesota reported two deaths Monday, including one person 80 or older and one age 90 or older. The state had 247 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 114 people in intensive care.

Data maintained by the Johns Hopkins COVID tracking project show Watonwan, Pipestone, Grant, Murray, and Blue Earth as the top five Minnesota counties with the newest cases per 100,000 people.

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