ROCHESTER, Minn. -- On a day in which Gov. Tim Walz is expected to announce a statewide mask mandate for all indoor public spaces and places of accomodation, the state health department reported another 507 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, July 22.
Walz suggested on Tuesday that a decision on a statewide mask ordinance would be forthcoming at a news conference scheduled for 2 pm Wednesday afternoon, and the announcement is expected to be an indoor ordinance.
Most retailers and many of the state's largest cities have already put indoor mask mandates in place, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Mankato and St. Cloud, a collection of municipalities affecting one-quarter of the state's population.
Hoping to build consensus for a policy that has been both widely supported and the source of friction, one the governor says requires popular buy-in to work, Walz had encouraged the Legislature to order the mandate, but it adjourned from a special session early Tuesday morning without doing so.
In recent days, Walz has framed the mandate as health policy tradeoff to enable the highly sought re-opening of schools, a move that would bring new transmission risks.
The state reported four deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The deaths struck residents of Ramsey, Blue Earth, Hennepin, and Mille Lacs counties. The Mille Lacs fatality was recorded as a person in their 20s. Three of the four deaths were among residents of long-term care.
There have now been 1,552 deaths from the illness in the state.
The state reported an additional 12,303 tests on Wednesday. ICU use for the illness jumped by 7 beds to 119 and non ICU hospitalization remained stable at 154.
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Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.