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Statewide Conversation on COVID19 - Kris Ehresmann, Director, MDH Infectious Disease

This is the STATEWIDE conversation with Minnesota’s state officials on COVID-19 brought to you by the AMPERS network of radio stations.  Hosted weekly by Heidi Holtan.  This week Heidi spoke with the MDH Director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division – Kris Ehresmann.

Every week this is your opportunity to ask questions about Minnesota’s response and plans during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Topics this week include: vaccination progress in Minnesota, variant strains of the virus and planning events in 2021.

We also heard more about the Governor's Adjustments to COVID-19 mitigation measures.  This is good for the economy, and a good sign in general.  As she reminded us though - we should still be following masking and social distancing.  Here are the changes:

Executive Order 21-07, effective Saturday, February 13 at noon, takes steps to further reopen Minnesota’s economy safely, including:

  • Increasing the “not to exceed” capacity in restaurants to 250, while leaving the maximum capacity at 50 percent
  • Increasing indoor entertainment “not to exceed” capacity to 250, while leaving the maximum capacity at 25 percent
  • Increasing private events and celebrations “not to exceed” capacity to 50, while leaving the maximum capacity at 25
  • Increasing gym and pool “not to exceed” capacity to 250, while leaving maximum capacity at 25 percent, and reducing distancing requirement to 6 feet.
  • Allowing restaurants to stay open until 11 p.m.

“While these measures are not a major dial turn, we know that they will make a difference to thousands of businesses and workers across the state,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “To keep making progress in growing our hospitality sector, it’s critical that we all remain vigilant in fighting COVID-19 by washing our hands, masking up and staying six feet apart.”

If you didn’t get a chance to send or call in your question this week email or call 612-562-9895.

This conversation is a collaboration of Ampers, Diverse Radio for Minnesota’s Communities, and the Minnesota Broadcasters Association.

Heidi Holtan is KAXE's Director of Content and Public Affairs where she manages producers and is the local host of Morning Edition from NPR. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North.