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The daily coronavirus update: Walz rolls back some restrictions on restaurants, gyms and social gatherings

The Minnesota Department of Health also said 19 more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19. 

Photo: CDC/Alissa Eckert

MinnPost provides updates on coronavirus in Minnesota Sunday through Friday. The information is published following a press phone call with members of the Walz administration or after the release of daily COVID-19 figures by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Here are the latest updates from February 12, 2021:

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Walz rolls back limits on restaurants, wedding receptions

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday issued a new executive order relaxing some of his limits on private gatherings, events and indoor dining. State officials said in a press release that Minnesota’s COVID-19 cases have been declining, leading them to ease some restrictions, but also said people should keep up physical distancing and avoid spread.

“While current trends are encouraging, the discovery of new COVID-19 variants means that we need to stay vigilant and cautious,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, in a prepared statement.

The following changes are effective beginning on Saturday at noon:

  • Restaurants are still limited to 50 capacity percent for indoor service but can allow a maximum of 250 people instead of 150. They can also stay open until 11 p.m.
  • Similarly, indoor entertainment still has a 25 percent indoor limit, but a maximum capacity of 250.
  • Venues that host private events and celebrations such as wedding receptions now have a maximum limit of 50 people inside instead of 10 people from two households. The events also must close at 11 p.m.
  • Gyms and pools have a 25 percent capacity limit but the maximum number of people allowed inside will be increased from 150 to 250. A requirement for 9 feet of distance between people and exercise machines is now 6 feet.

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature said rolling back restrictions was the right move, but they also criticized Walz for continuing to make decisions unilaterally and without enough input from lawmakers. The GOP has tried to lift Walz’s emergency powers, which authorize him to take steps to restrict businesses, for months. But Democrats who control the Minnesota House have blocked the move. Republicans have also urged Walz to base his decisions off concrete benchmarks or metrics that allow businesses to plan better in advance.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement that Walz’s changes give restaurant owners fewer than 48 hours to plan for Valentine’s day, which is one of the busiest days of the year, during an already tough economic time. “Continuing to go it alone with emergency powers and universal control over the dials is unwise,” Gazelka said. “It leaves Minnesotans without clear expectations for future changes affecting their livelihoods and ability to support their families.

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471,851 cases; 6,362 deaths

Nineteen more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday, for a total of 6,362.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Friday, six were in their 90s, seven were in their 80s, three were in their 70s, two were in their 60s and one was in their 50s. Fifteen of the 19 people whose deaths announced Friday were residents of long-term care facilities.

MDH also said Friday there have been 471,851 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 1,048 from the total announced on Thursday and is based on 43,554 new tests. The seven-day positive case average, which lags by a week, is 3.9 percent. That’s below a 5-percent threshold officials say is a concerning sign of disease spread, and also the lowest the rate has been since last summer.

The most recent vaccine data show 617,896 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is roughly 11.1 percent of state residents. A total of 189,902 Minnesotas, or about 3.4 percent of the population, have gotten both doses to complete the vaccine series.

The most recent data available show 73 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 253 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

More information on cases can be found here.

Shakopee VA hosts walk-in clinic

The Minneapolis Veterans’ Affairs health care system says it has a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines for veterans 65 and older or who are frontline essential workers who can be served at a walk-in clinic in Shakopee this weekend. The clinic will be open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Today on MinnPost

  • More Minnesota students are heading back to school. What does the science say about the safety of reopening?
  • Officials say Minnesota’s ‘angel’ tax credit program is crucial for the state’s post-pandemic recovery. It’s also long failed to meet equity goals.
  • Asking yourself how long it’s been since this all started? Us too.
  • As always, a look at the numbers on the MinnPost COVID-19 dashboard.

Around the web

MDH’s coronavirus website:

MDH’s phone line for COVID-19 questions, Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m: 651-297-1304

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