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ANOTHER SHUTDOWN? State leaders and experts warn Minnesotans to follow mask mandate, CDC guidelines

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On Track Boutique in downtown Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - New COVID-19 case numbers are on the rise today as Minnesota nears a million total tests completed.

With 681 new cases and nine deaths, the increase has some worried about governor Tim Walz having to turn back the dial.

The state would consider rolling back reopening if the seven-day positive testing rate is more than 5 percent over a two week period or climbs to 15 percent. Currently, the rate is at 4.9 percent, up from 4.7 percent last week.

"We need to keep our businesses open," Gov. Tim Walz said. "We need to keep people employed and we need things to keep moving forward."

However, recent increases in COVID-19 cases have threatened the reopening efforts.

"Weekly average case growth is increasing and we're concerned about where this is headed," said Kris Ehresmann, Minnesota Department of Health infectious disease director.

Other states have had to close businesses back down. Another shutdown would be devastating to local shops in Rochester.

"We still provide a safe environment. I would really hope that they wouldn't dial it back down and close retail again," said Bruce Dahlstrom, owner of On Track Boutique.

New precautions mean that On Track Boutique runs a little oddly these days.

"We're wiping down high touch points every two hours and steaming merchandise after it's been tried on," Dahlstrom said. "Things are a little different."

Even with months of being closed and downtown construction, the store is staying afloat.

"People are finding us," the owner said. "It's a little difficult but they are finding us and coming in."

To keep businesses open, Minnesotans are asked to wear masks whether they have coronavirus symptoms or not.

"Given that it can be two weeks or more between the time when someone is exposed to when they are a confirmed case, we are worried that if we do not take the right steps, when it spreads, we will be like the states that did not see the COVID train before it ran them over," Ehresmann said.

The impact may not be apparent for a few weeks, but the governor believes the mask mandate is one of the keys to further reopening the economy.

"If we can get 90 to 95 percent complaince on mask wearing in Minnesota, we can start to drive those COVID numbers down to where we can do what we want to do again," Walz said.

Another worrying statistic in Minnesota is how much more deadly the virus is for older populations.

The amount of fatal COVID cases among those in their 20s is around 0.02 percent. Conversely, the virus has been fatal in 30 percent of cases among Minnesotans in their 80s.

Alex Tejada

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