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By MPR News 

Covid cases drop, as does vaccination pace


May 14, 2021

Active cases and hospitalizations are ebbing in Minnesota, but the vaccination pace remains at a relative crawl even as state public health leaders plead with unvaccinated adults to get their shots.

More than 60 percent of state residents 16 and older have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. But with the pace only inching forward now, it’ll take longer to reach 70 percent — the threshold Gov. Tim Walz linked to ending the statewide mask mandate.

A few weeks ago, the state was on pace to hit the 70-percent mark in mid-May; now it’s pushed back beyond mid-June, assuming the current rate holds.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in those ages 12 to 15. Older teens and all adults were previously eligible.

The authorization expands the pool of eligible vaccine recipients to around 87 percent of the total U.S. population, covering an additional 17 million children, and comes at a time when people under age 18 account for 1 out of every 5 newly reported coronavirus infections.

The ability to get vaccinated is crucial for this group, Dr. Nia Geard-Harris, a pediatrician and researcher at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine. “It promotes the potential to gather and socialize and continue on — which is just as important for children as for adults.”


What’s with the new rules?

Q Can I throw a big party at my house?

A It depends on how you define big, but: Yes, indoor social gatherings with up to a maximum of 50 people is now permitted — an increase from the 15-person limit. Keep in mind that people must wear masks and follow other precautions, such as social distancing.

State leaders are still encouraging organizers of social gatherings to wait until any guests who are eligible to be vaccinated are fully vaccinated.

If you want to throw a backyard party, there are no size restrictions, although people are still required to socially distance and wear masks.

Q Where will I still have to wear a mask?

A Until July 1 — or until 70 percent of the state’s 16-and-older population has gotten a vaccine — the statewide mask mandate stands.

That means that you’re required to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and businesses, unless you’re alone. This includes when waiting outside to enter an indoor public space.

You don’t have to wear a mask inside your residence, including apartments or condos. However, masks are still required in the common areas of multi-unit residential buildings.

Masks are also required on public transportation, including buses and trains, and in taxis or vehicles that are used for a business purpose.

Additionally, workers are required to wear a face covering when working outdoors in situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained.

You’re also required to wear a mask when at a business, either indoors or outdoors, that requires face coverings.

Before July 1, those mask requirements remain in place. But as of May 7, masks are not required outdoors, except at large venues with 500 people or more.

Q Will I be able to go to a concert soon?

A Yes, especially if it’s outside. Entertainment venues like theaters and concert halls, event and conference centers, festivals and fairs are allowed to host up to 250 people indoors, as long as occupancy doesn’t exceed 50 percent of normal capacity.

Venues that are large enough to accommodate more than 250 people (and still maintain that 50-percent capacity limit), will be allowed to exceed that limit, as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.

Until the state’s mask mandate is officially lifted, masks are still required indoors.

— MPR News


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