ROCHESTER, Minn. -- After a weekend in which a state lawmaker mocked the wearing of masks and video surfaced of a couple in Marshall wearing masks with swastikas, Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm on Monday, July 27, made an appeal toward individual investment in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
"For months now we've said despite all the hard work of doctors and nurses, long-term care providers, public health staff, and the sacrifices made by business owners and citizens to reduce COVID spread," Malcolm said at her Monday news conference, "the biggest factor has been and will continue to be the choices and behaviors of us -- of we Minnesotans together and individually."
"We know that the incidents that get attention on social media and in the press are often not representative of what's happening in most cases," Malcolm added, cited recent FOX News polling "that indicated the vast majority of Minnesotans -- fully 85% -- have a favorable view of masking, and only 9% reported they had an unfavorable view wearing masks."
Malcolm said evidence of support could be found in over 80 calls having been made by citizens during the weekend to report customers and employees who flaunted the order.
"We're not asking Minnesotans to mask up for the health department, or for elected leaders, or the big cities. We're asking them to mask up for their own health to protect their families, neighbors and businesses."
At a Saturday, July 25, GOP political retreat at on Gull Lake, state House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt mocked mask-wearing and Gov. Tim Walz's new mask mandate. “None of you have any of your masks on, you lawbreakers,” Daudt joked to cheers from the room filled with people defying the mask mandate, holding up his own mask for emphasis.
State director of infectious disease Kris Ehresmann added that the public should not expect the current spike in daily cases to drop quickly as a result of the order.
"We need to keep in mind as we watch case numbers that we would expect the impact of mask wearing would kick in three weeks from now."
The health officials added that while outdoor gatherings are preferable, if guests cannot maintain a 6-foot distance, mask wearing is necessary at barbecues and outdoor events as well.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported 650 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, July 27.
The state also recorded two additional deaths from the virus, one each in Anoka and Blue Earth counties. The state has now reached 25 straight days of deaths in the single digits.
The new case count was high but it comes on top of 13,642 more tests, a large number for a Monday. The state's health systems have given more than 75,000 tests in the past five days. So far, 970,726 tests have been administered, and Minnesota is poised to have passed a million-test milestone by midweek.
ICU use has jumped by nine beds to 126, while non-ICU hospitalization for COVID-19 has fallen by 27 beds to 131.
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Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website.