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Walz urges people to remain vigilant on COVID-19

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz says the state is at a “tipping point” when it comes to the coronavirus as the number of positive cases continues to climb and that people must take precautions or risk a return to more restrictions on daily life in Minnesota.

Walz and state health officials are worried about the upcoming Labor Day holiday as people get together and the effect that could have on the number of COVID-19 cases.

They’re urging Minnesotans to stay vigilant, wear masks and socially distance even at informal gatherings with friends and family.

“My goal is to keep as much open as we have right now, to not have to turn the dial backwards,” Walz told reporters Thursday.

Health officials reported another 856 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, and an additional 10 deaths, bringing the total numbers to 78,966 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,847 deaths. Over the past week, Minnesota’s seen its number of active, confirmed cases reach a record high.

As of Friday, 274 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 138 in intensive care.

Walz said he regularly talks with state health officials about the need to balance economic and public health concerns as they track the disease,  Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

“The virus will dictate where we go,” he said, acknowledging that new restrictions would further damage restaurants, bars and other businesses that depend on people gathering in public spaces.

“We believe that the behavioral changes, the mask mandate and maybe another push on this can make the difference,” he added.