COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota

COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota
(clockwise from top)
COVID-19 rolling 14day Prevalence in Minnesota by county.svg
Map of the outbreak in Minnesota by confirmed new infections per 100,000 people (14 days preceding September 18)
  500+ confirmed new cases
  200–500 confirmed new cases
  100–200 confirmed new cases
  50–100 confirmed new cases
  20–50 confirmed new cases
  10–20 confirmed new cases
  0–10 confirmed new cases
  No confirmed new cases or no data
COVID-19 Prevalence in Minnesota by county.svg
Map of the outbreak in Minnesota by total confirmed infections per 100,000 people (as of September 18)
  3,000+ confirmed infected
  1,000–3,000 confirmed infected
  300–1,000 confirmed infected
  100–300 confirmed infected
  30–100 confirmed infected
  0–30 confirmed infected
  No confirmed infected or no data
Disease COVID-19
Virus strain SARS-CoV-2
Location Minnesota
First outbreak Grand Princess
Index case St. Paul
Arrival date March 6, 2020
Confirmed cases 75,189 (August 30)
(8,237 health care workers)
Hospitalized cases 315 (current)
6,454 (cumulative)
Critical cases 136 (current)
Recovered 66,916
Government website
Minnesota Department of Health

The COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota is part of an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the state of Minnesota. The first confirmed case was reported on March 1, 2020.

Governor Tim Walz declared a state of emergency on March 13.[1]


The Minnesota Department of Health began testing for the virus on January 20. During this time, no cases were positively tested in Minnesota. State health officials were monitoring for potential cases and making plans to contain future outbreaks.[3][4]

Mayo Clinic in Rochester began fast-tracking development of a test for the virus in mid-February.[3]

Timeline of outbreak


The first positive test was confirmed in the state. The patient had recently taken a Grand Princess cruise on a ship with a known case. The patient was an older adult from Ramsey County and had started having symptoms on February 25 and received medical care on March 5. They returned home to recover in isolation. Governor Tim Walz said "I'm confident that Minnesota is prepared for this."[5]

The second positive test in the state was confirmed in Carver County. A patient in their 50s began having symptoms on March 2 after likely being exposed while traveling in Europe in February. They sought medical care on March 7 and begin recovering at home in isolation.[6]

The third Minnesota patient was hospitalized in critical condition at an Anoka County hospital. The patient is in their 30s and had no obvious underlying conditions. They had developed symptoms on February 28 after being in contact with international travelers which likely exposed them to the virus. They were evaluated on March 3 and released at that time without being tested, which the Minnesota Department of Health had deemed "appropriate". They returned for medical services on March 9.[7] According to health officials there was no evidence the virus was being transmitted person to person in the state yet.[8]

A bill to set aside $20.8 million for Minnesota's coronavirus outbreak response is signed by Governor Walz. This money is in addition to the $4.6 million already in the account for public health response, totaling over $25 million.[9]

5 total cases in Minnesota have been confirmed. The fourth patient is in their 50s, in Olmsted County, and was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The fifth patient is in Ramsey County and in their 30s.[10]

The University of Minnesota announces the suspension of classes across all five campuses. The University will extend its spring break to two weeks, ending March 18, at which time classes will resume through online instruction. Online instruction will continue until at least April 1 including field experience and clinical. During this time, residence halls, dining services, and other student services will continue normal operation.[11]

Mayo Clinic also began "drive-through testing" for the virus, though patients still needed to be approved to be tested by telephone screening.[12]

9 total cases are confirmed in Minnesota with the four new cases all considered to be travel-related. The new cases are reported in Hennepin, Dakota, and Stearns counties. All non-critical cases had begun recovering at home in isolation.[13] At this time, the Minnesota Department of Health did not recommend closing schools.[13]

14 total cases are confirmed in Minnesota; the new cases were reported to be in Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota, Carver, and Wright counties. As of this date, more than 550 people have been tested for the virus in the state.[14]

Governor Walz declares a peacetime state of emergency. He says, "We are going into a heightened state of readiness to protect Minnesotans."[1]

21 total cases confirmed in Minnesota. All 7 new cases were connected to contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. All seven patients begin recovering at home in self-isolation. 868 total tests have been conducted.[15]

35 total cases confirmed in Minnesota. The new cases involved residents of Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Olmsted, Waseca, and Washington counties. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Health reports three of the new cases were exposed via community transmission.[15]

Governor Tim Walz announces the temporary closure of all Minnesota K-12 public schools from March 18 until March 27. He says, "My top priority as Governor is the safety of Minnesotans. As a former teacher, and father of two teenage kids, I'm especially focused on the safety of our children."[16][17] During the school shutdown, meals and mental health services will still be provided to students in need.[18] Under the governor's order, schools will remain open for elementary-aged children of health care workers and other emergency workers.[19] Teachers will be using this time to plan for a possibility of weeks of long-distance learning.[20]

The Minnesota Legislature begins scaling back operations as the State House and Senate will be meeting on an on-call basis. For future meetings, they will be meeting in locations that allow for 6 feet between representatives.[21]

Governor Tim Walz announces in Executive Order 20-04 that all non-essential businesses close until March 27, 2020, citing the first confirmed case of community spread, detected the previous day, as his cause for this action.[22]

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) today announces that due to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials, the state is forced to make adjustments to its testing criteria to focus on the highest priority specimens, including hospitalized patients.[23]

Delivering surgical masks in Minnesota

The state confirms its first death due to the virus; the patient was from Ramsey County and was in their 80s. The patient had contracted the virus from a confirmed case.[24] Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan also confirms her brother died due to the coronavirus in Nashville, TN.[25]

A marquee at Brave New Workshop in downtown Minneapolis referencing coronavirus

The governor makes several announcements regarding the state's response to the virus:[citation needed]

  • A small business loan program would be made available for possibly 5000 businesses during the week for amounts between $2,500 and $35,000
  • All elective veterinary surgeries would be halted
  • The budget for the response to the virus would be revised, asking for an additional $365 million

The state announces a total of 287 confirmed cases of the virus, 26 of which required hospitalization. It is reported that the actual number of cases was likely at least 10 times higher than this number.[26]

Governor Tim Walz signs Executive Order 20-20. This order states that all people currently residing in Minnesota are to shelter in place beginning March 27, 2020 at 11:59PM through April 10, 2020 at 5:00PM.[27] Walz also signs executive orders 20-18 and 20–19. Executive order 20-18 extended the previous statewide closure of all non-essential businesses, which was due to end March 27, 2020, to remain closed until May 1, 2020.[28] Executive Order 20-19 extended school closures and a "Distance Learning Period" was ordered to begin in Minnesota from March 30, 2020 until May 4, 2020.[29]


Governor Tim Walz extended the Stay at Home (Executive Order 20–33) order until May 3 at 11:59 PM. He cited his reason for doing so due to the new data and new discoveries on about COVID-19 since the original order was put in place. He is also allowing hardware and garden shops to open so long as they follow all the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.[30]

Protestor at the Governor's Residence in St. Paul

During the early hours of the 17th, President Donald Trump tweeted "LIBERATE MINNESOTA" in reference to Governor Tim Walz's stay at home order.[31] Later that afternoon, several hundred citizens protested the order in front of the Governor's Residence in St. Paul. The protest was organized largely via Facebook by the Minnesota Gun Rights Caucus. Ben Dorr, a head member of the advocacy group, has repeatedly called for the state to reopen and has erroneously claimed that COVID-19 poses no greater threat to public health than the flu.[32] Dorr has two older brothers who are also gun-rights advocates. The three have used their collective social media presence to call for additional protests.

During his usual daily press conference, Governor Walz announced that it was now permitted for people to engage in various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, and motor-boating so long as they maintained a safe and reasonable distance from other people. As well as allowing people to engage in various outdoor activities, he allowed golf courses and bait shops to open.[33] Walz stated these plans were conceptualized before the President's tweet and the civilian protest.

Governor Tim Walz extended the stay at home order for Minnesota to Sunday May 17 at 11:59 PM. He stated that staying home is the most powerful weapon to "defeat" the virus and that "we must run the full marathon and not stop at mile 20". Furthermore, he is requiring certain personal to wear face masks and strongly urging the general public to do the same.[34]


The Minnesota State Fair was cancelled in response to the pandemic.[35]

After being previously extended, the stay-at-home order expired and was replaced with a "stay safe Minnesota" order. This occurred at a time when new cases and hospitalizations were both increasing. Referring to the changes as a "measured Minnesota approach", Walz clarified that "we’re not flipping a switch and everything’s going back to normal at once... we’re slowly moving the dial and introducing more interaction between people over time.” He also announced that bars, restaurants, gyms, and salons would remain closed.[36]

The current single-day record of new cases was set, with 982 positive tests being reported.[37]

Following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, protesters gathered in large groups for vigils, marches and demonstrations, first in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and later throughout the state. Most protesters wore masks[38] and people were generally able to limit exposure through social distancing, brief interactions, and by being outdoors.[38] While health experts warned that the protests could lead to an increased risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases,[39] testing indicated that few of the protesters contracted the disease.[38][40] The use of tear gas and pepper spray by the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota National Guard was criticized for creating conditions where the virus could spread more easily by exacerbating respiratory infections, increasing exposure rates, and compromising immune systems.[41]


Gov. Walz extended the emergency order through July 13.[42]

At least 88 of approximately 1,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee tested positive. An additional 99 positive tests had been reported at other Amazon sites in the Twin Cities as of this date.[43]

Over 100 cases were reported among people in their 20s who patronized crowded bars in the Mankato area, during the first weekend that indoor service was permitted. A cluster of 30 cases was also reported at two Minneapolis bars.[44]


Minnesota experienced a significant increase in positive cases beginning in late June and extending into July consistent with the greater nationwide trend. However, in mid-July, the number of new deaths and hospitalizations were still decreasing. It has been observed that this increase was largely driven by the 20-29 age group, and by communities in the Twin Cities suburbs.[45]

Gov. Walz extended the emergency order for 30 more days, through August 12.[46]

The state records its youngest fatality from the virus: A 9 month old baby from Clay County who died with no underlying health conditions.[47]


A Seneca Foods packing facility in Glencoe had 33 confirmed and 12 suspected cases. Although about 200 workers had been tested on arrival, test results were delayed by more than 10 days.[48]

The state had 15 cases traced to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, with more cases expected.[49][50] Although public health notices were issued for rally locations including One-Eyed Jack's Saloon, The Knuckle Saloon, The Broken Spoke, and Asylum Tattoo in Sturgis, and for the Bumpin’ Buffalo Bar and Grill in Hill City,[51][52][1][53] some cases among Minnesota rallygoers could not be traced to specific locations. A Minnesota public health official urged anyone who had traveled to Sturgis to monitor for symptoms for 14 days, adding that "if you are feeling ill after returning from the event, please get tested and self-isolate while you wait for the test results."[54]

Between June 12 and August 21, 29 restaurants in Minnesota had outbreaks. Two of the largest clusters were in Mankato and St. Cloud, with 118 and 117 cases respectively.[55]

A cluster of cases was linked to a wedding held in Ghent.[56]

The state had a total of 27 cases traced to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Twenty-five cases were among attendees, and two cases were employees or volunteers at the event.[57][58]

At least 21 clusters of cases associated with parties, weddings, funerals and other social gatherings were identified in August. During the preceding week, cases were traced to 29 Minnesota bars and restaurants, and one or more cases were reported in 51 Minnesota colleges and universities. More Sturgis rallygoers tested positive, for a total of 46 Minnesota infections linked directly to Sturgis. Secondary transmission and positive cases were identified among contacts of Sturgis attendees.[59]

Cases traced to Sturgis attendees rose to 49. Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that cases had plateaued at a high level, and "now we're starting to inch back up again. We have not improved." Over the weekend, there were 1,032 new cases on Saturday, and 934 on Sunday, "also one of the highest days yet."[60]


Cases remained high, with 502 cases announced on this day. Rural LeSeur County had over 15% case positivity. "Health officials have shifted their concern from urban bars and, to some extent, statewide youth sporting events. They look now to a routine sort of abandonment of health guidance at everyday informal social gatherings."[61]

A news story stated that "nearly half of an Iowa National Guard battalion that came to train at Camp Ripley in Minnesota this summer became sick with or were exposed to COVID-19."[62]

Winona State University began a 14-day campus quarantine, citing "an increase in asymptomatic transmission." Cases had risen from 97 on August 30 to 209 on September 6.[63][64]


State government

"Corona Hours" sign at the Lake Area Quick Lube in White Bear Lake, Minnesota- Auto Repair and Maintenance shops are considered "essential businesses"

On March 10, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill dedicating $20.8 million to state coronavirus response.[9]

On March 13, Governor Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency.[1]

On March 15, Governor Walz authorized the temporary closing of all public K-12 schools from March 18 until at least March 27.[16][17] On March 25, this closure was extended to May 4.[citation needed]

On March 16, the Minnesota legislature began scaling back operations and meeting on an on-call basis.[21] Governor Walz also ordered the closure of public places, including all: restaurants, bars, coffee shops, gyms, theaters, breweries, ski resorts, and other public places until at least March 27. Bars and restaurants in the state were closed only to dine-in customers; the businesses were allowed to continue to serve customers by take-out or delivery.[65] On March 25, this order was extended until May 1.[citation needed]

On March 25, Governor Walz issued a stay-at-home order, claiming that at this point it was too late to "flatten the curve" with relation to new cases. The stay-at-home order required Minnesotans to restrict activity outside the home from 11:59 p.m. on March 27 until 5 p.m. on April 10.[66] While the order did continue the closure of bars, restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons, and other "non-essential" locations, the majority of workplaces still remained open for some employees in order to provide "essential services." Businesses deemed "essential" included mechanics (bike and auto), chiropractors, grocery stores, any store that sold food or drink including bakeries, butcher shops, liquor stores, and even popcorn shops. Many restaurants remained open for take-out and curbside pickup. Many retail stores also maintained a skeleton staff and offered curbside pickup, or only allowed a few people in the store at one time.[67][68]

On April 10, Governor Tim Walz extended his stay-at-home order (Executive Order 20–33) until May 3 at 11:59 PM. He cited his reason for doing so was that new data and new discoveries about COVID-19 had emerged since the original order was put in place. He also allowed hardware and garden shops to open so long as they follow all the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.[30]

On April 17, Governor Walz announced that it was now permitted for people to engage in various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, and motor-boating so long as they maintained a safe and reasonable distance from other people. Golf courses and bait shops were also permitted to open.[33] Walz clearly stated these plans were conceptualized before the President's tweet and the civilian protest.

On April 30, Governor Tim Walz extended the stay at home order for Minnesota to Sunday May 17 at 11:59 PM. He stated that staying home is the most powerful weapon to "defeat" the virus and that "we must run the full marathon and not stop at mile 20". Furthermore, he required certain personnel to wear face masks and strongly urged the general public to do the same.[34]

On May 13, Governor Tim Walz allowed his stay-at-home order for Minnesota to expire on Sunday May 17 at 11:59 PM, so that Minnesota would enter into a second phase of fighting the virus. He thanked Minnesotans for their sacrifices and efforts to curb the virus. On May 18, most businesses were able to open but must adhere to the Minnesota's Department of Health's guidelines. However, pubs and restaurants must remain closed; a decision regarding reopening these businesses would be made no later than 30 May. Minnesotans can gather in groups of up to 10 people with close family and friends.[69]

On May 21, Governor Tim Walz allowed all restaurants and pubs with outdoor seating to open on June 1 at 50% capacity and by reservation only. Hair salons were allowed to open at 50% capacity and reservation only. All workers in these businesses are required to wear face masks at all times while on the clock, and customers are strongly encouraged to do the same.[70]

On June 5, Governor Tim Walz allowed all restaurants, pubs, gyms, and other indoor entertainmaint venues to open indoor dining at 25-50% capacity. Gatherings of people indoors were limited to 10 people; however 25 people can gather if the gathering takes place outdoors. He also thanked Minnesotans for their sacrifices and patience, but warned that if cases start increasing, than he may have to close businesses [71]

Governor Walz announced a statewide mask mandate on July 22. Beginning July 25, the mandate required that face masks be worn in stores, public buildings, and indoor spaces where people congregate.[72]

City governments

On March 14, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter declared a State of Local Emergency. The city will no longer be issuing any new permits for gatherings of 50 or more people. He also requested that Ramsey County police suspend all evictions. The St. Paul Public Library, St. Paul Schools, and all parks and recreation centers including the Como Zoo were also closed from March 16 through March 27.[20]

In March, the City of Red Wing, Minnesota suspended city facilities and shut down the city library due to health concerns.[73] On March 31, Red Wing reported its first cases at a corrections facility.[74]

On July 29, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey issued an emergency order declaring that all Minneapolis indoor bars, which recently reopened, would once again close effective August 1.[75] Taprooms, distilleries, nightclubs and restaurants with a bar area will close again as well.[75]

Impact on sports

Most of the state's sports teams were affected. Several leagues began postponing or suspending their seasons starting March 12. Major League Baseball cancelled the remainder of spring training on that date, and on March 16, they announced that the season will be postponed indefinitely, after the recommendations from the CDC to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, affecting the Minnesota Twins.[76] Also on March 12, the National Basketball Association announced the season would be suspended for 30 days, affecting the Minnesota Timberwolves.[77] In the National Hockey League, the season was suspended for an indefinite amount of time, affecting the Minnesota Wild.[78]

In college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association canceled all winter and spring tournaments, most notably the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, affecting colleges and universities statewide.[79] The 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships were scheduled for March 19–21 at Minneapolis' U.S. Bank Stadium. By March 11, the NCAA had announced the championship would continue, but none of the anticipated 100,000 fans would be allowed to attend.[80] The following day the NCAA canceled all spring championships.[citation needed]

On March 16, the National Junior College Athletic Association also canceled the remainder of the winter seasons as well as the spring seasons.[81]

On March 21, the Brainerd Jaycees announced the cancelation of the Run for the Lakes Marathon and all other races taking place over the marathon weekend, which was scheduled for April 24–25. The COVID-19 pandemic ended the 11-year streak of consecutive marathon runnings.[82]

Grandma's Marathon was held annually for 43 years, making it one of the oldest continually-run marathons in the country. But on March 31, the staff announced that the June 16, 2020, race was canceled due to concerns of spreading SARS-CoV-2.[83]

On April 2, race officials decided to cancel the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon for the first time since the race began in 2008. The race runs on the state trail from Holdingford, Minnesota, to St. Joseph, Minnesota.[84]

By April 6, nearly 1,000 people in the state had contracted COVID-19, and the Rochester, Minnesota-based Med City Marathon race organizers decided to postpone their race weekend from May 23–24 to September 4–5.[85][86]


Status of cases beginning 14 April 2020

See also


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  86. ^ Bongers, Mark (April 6, 2020). "2020 Final Stretch Events – Med City Marathon presented by Active PT" (PDF). Rochester, Minnesota. Retrieved April 6, 2020.

External links