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The daily coronavirus update: state offers fair tickets, park passes to encourage vaccinations in Minnesota

Roughly 57.7 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older are now fully vaccinated.

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 May 27, 2021:

Walz to offer parks passes, fair tickets and more to encourage vaccinations

Minnesota will offer a range of freebies to the first 100,000 people who get vaccinated between Thursday and June 30, including passes to state parks, tickets to the state fair or fishing licenses.

While some states have opted for larger prizes, such as lottery drawings for enormous cash rewards, Gov. Tim Walz said he wanted to spread out benefits and said tying them to outdoor activities that are in high demand was “very Minnesotan.”

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“I think after a year of being stuck at home, a year of being close to home, we saw … an unprecedented demand for fishing licenses, hunting licenses,” Walz told reporters at Fort Snelling State Park. “Outdoor equipment is selling like hot cakes.”

Walz said health officials had younger Minnesotans in mind when creating the incentives, aiming to reach people who may not be opposed to vaccination, but are healthy and lead busy lives so they didn’t flock immediately to get a shot. The incentives will be paid for with federal COVID-19 relief money.

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Walz acknowledged some people who have already been vaccinated but didn’t get rewards may be frustrated. “The first thing I would say is thank you for getting vaccinated,” Walz said. “The second thing is you did get something: you got immunity both for you and your community.”

Those who get vaccinated in the time period can choose from the following nine options:

  • Two free tickets to the Minnesota State Fair.
  • One entry ticket to the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, valid until July 1, 2023
  • A 30-point ride pass at Nickelodeon Universe theme park at Mall of America, good through September 1, 2021
  • One fishing license effective through February 2022. (You must be eligible to actually hold a fishing license.)
  • A one-year pass to state parks.
  • A free adult ticket to the Minnesota Zoo, good through September 8.
  • A free admission ticket to Valleyfair, as well as the opportunity to buy more tickets for the same day at a discounted rate.
  • A ticket to a Northwoods League baseball game in the 2021 season. Eligible teams include: Rochester Honkers, Willmar Stingers, Mankato Moondogs, St. Cloud Rox and the Duluth Huskies.
  • A $25 Visa gift card.

Starting June 1, eligible people can verify when they got their first dose and choose a reward at

The incentives come as case numbers and hospitalizations are dropping in Minnesota. On Friday, Walz is lifting all restrictions on capacity and physical distancing indoors for businesses and gatherings such as bars, restaurants, gyms and religious services.

600,408 cases; 7,403 deaths

Ten more Minnesotans have died of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health said Thursday, for a total of 7,403.

Of the people whose deaths were announced Thursday, two were in their 80s, five were in their 70s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 30s and one was in their 20s. Two of the 10 people whose deaths were announced Thursday were residents of long-term care facilities.

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MDH has reported 259 deaths so far in the month of May, which is more than March (excluding a backlog of 138 deaths reported March 9) and close to the April death toll of 296. The state has reported an average of 10 deaths per day over the last week. That seven-day death rate has been stable between eight and 11 deaths per day for much of the last two months.

MDH also said Thursday there have been 600,408 total cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota. That number is up 499 from the total announced on Wednesday and is based on 26,012 new tests. The seven-day case positivity rate, which lags by a week, is 4.1 percent. That’s below the 5-percent threshold the state considers a concerning sign of disease spread and down from 4.8 percent the week prior.

As of Tuesday, the most recent data available, 2,885,499 Minnesotans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s roughly 51.9 percent of the population and an increase of 13,955 from the day prior. About 63.9 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older have at least one vaccine dose.

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MDH reports that 2,543,044 Minnesotans, about 45.7 percent of the population, have completed a vaccine series. Roughly 57.7 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

The most recent data available show 80 Minnesotans are hospitalized in intensive care with COVID-19, and 254 are in the hospital with COVID-19 not in intensive care. Hospitalizations continue to decline. MDH reported 90 Minnesotans in the ICU on Wednesday and 274 hospitalized but not in intensive care. Last Thursday, MDH announced 109 Minnesotans in intensive care and 303 people hospitalized outside of the ICU. You can find more information about Minnesota’s current ICU usage and capacity here.

More information on cases can be found here.

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