May 6, 2021

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript: Mask Mandate to End July 1

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript: Mask Mandates to End July 1
RevBlogTranscriptsMinnesota Governor Tim Walz TranscriptsMinnesota Governor Tim Walz COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript: Mask Mandate to End July 1

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a press conference on May 6, 2021 to provide updates on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccinations. He announced that he plans to drop the state mask mandate by July 1. Read the transcript of the full briefing speech here.

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Governor Walz: (00:00)
Out of your day on this beautiful sunny day to get an update on where we stand on this. We described as a long dark winter, 15 months ago, I’m joined today by very familiar faces, Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Health, Jan Malcolm will be with you after I brief a little bit and the Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Steve Grove will be with you.

Governor Walz: (00:23)
I would note that there is a whole team of folks over these last 15 months as we’ve stood in front of you and tried to make sure that we got you as much information possible to keep you, your families and our state safe. There’s been a lot of these. They have included a lot of tough decisions and a lot of very challenging impacts on your families, both health wise, emotionally, and certainly economically too. The teams across state government, our private sector partners and I especially want to say a thank you to those frontline health workers who have been there, childcare providers, folks who processed our food or served, worked at the grocery stores, so many, and then to you Minnesotans. It’s been a long journey, but we’ve did the things that needed to be done. And today we want to talk about where we’re at and as all Minnesotans know, the job’s not done until it’s done, but the plan to finish it is on us now. We’ve got the opportunity and we want to just take a few minutes to walk through that.

Governor Walz: (01:21)
First of all, our goal when we first started talking back in March was to balance safety, our wellbeing and our livelihoods. That meant making those hard decisions, but understanding that public health is dependent on each and every one of us making good decisions that impact our neighbors in a positive way also. It also meant understanding that there was going to be economic hits to certain industries, making sure that we were providing the support for them, making sure that there was economics incentives there, and that we were trying to make sure we brought everyone through this.

Governor Walz: (01:55)
We at the beginning of this pandemic knew very little about this new respiratory disease. The modeling was a little bit wide because we hadn’t seen a lot of things that were out there, but we knew early on like every respiratory disease, if you could stop that interaction with folks, if you could do things like masking and social distancing, and if you could limit unpredictable gatherings of people outside their immediate family, you had an opportunity to slow it.

Governor Walz: (02:18)
But we knew all along back in March and April of last year, I used a statement where I said our only vaccine is our ability to social distance and mitigate, that is no longer true. And because of what you’ve done, you put us in a better spot than a lot of other folks. We ranked near the top as far as testing, as far as cases that we have in the lowest. And the one that matters the most is the fewest deaths. Amongst all of the states and states of any size, Minnesota does incredibly well on that. That’s because of all of that hard work of all of those groups involved.

Governor Walz: (02:51)
We also made it a commitment during this time that we’d take care of our own. This is a state that takes care of their own. Recently with data from the Census Bureau around a whole spectrum of things, Minnesota kids fared better than in any other state. Minnesota is first in the nation in COVID vaccination and distribution of this. That was incredible hard work among state employees, private sector, non-profits, faith-based groups, getting into every corner of the state. I want to be very clear about this. That work continues and that work is now even harder. We’re moving from large community vaccination sites to literally door to door. Now is the time for us to get there. And when it came time to trying to figure out who had COVID and what we needed to do, we’ve led the nation since the beginning in COVID testing.

Governor Walz: (03:36)
And here’s the one that I’m most proud of. Some of you seen this map. When they go out and ask folks, are you likely to get the vaccine? The purple color means the highest amount ranging above 90%. Minnesota has the highest uptake, and we have the highest desire to get this. We can continue to get this vaccine, and every one of those doses protects not only you or the person getting the shot, it protects the neighbor, the community, and returns us to normal. So Minnesotans, you’re going to hear us continue to say this. We’ve got a little ways to go and the path out of this is getting to every one of those communities.

Governor Walz: (04:12)
As you’re thinking about this, think about the pitch you’re going to make to your uncle who says he doesn’t need to get the vaccine. Those of you who are out there, who are concerned for health reasons, talk to your doctor and like me, what I’m doing right now with one of those young folks that fall between 12 and 15, talking to our pediatrician and making arrangements when we have the capacity and we get the authorization to give the doses to our children, let’s get them done and protect them. It’s critically important and we can do that all right now. The state of Minnesota has the capacity, the state of Minnesota is delivering them faster than anybody. And this week, the Federal government has given flexibility for states that are doing a really good job to request more doses, if they can figure out how to get it out.

Governor Walz: (04:52)
And I’d like to note amongst this vaccination piece, and we’ll talk a little bit, here’s what it did. You’ve seen this chart a lot going clear back to last April as the first COVID cases started to show up and like many respiratory diseases, they spike in the winter months. Well, we were making mitigation efforts, we put things in place. But even though we did those things in October and had to maybe slow things down, we still saw a massive spike, and that massive spike of cases is followed by deaths. Deaths that we can prevent if we do things right. Minnesotans did that. We dropped off dramatically. We saw that little bump you see right at the bottom there was right after Christmas. We put in mitigation efforts and we didn’t need to change them.

Governor Walz: (05:34)
And as you started to see in March where the new variant, the B117 variant from the UK started to rise again, lots of concerns, lots of concerns across the country, lots concerns around the world. We kept course, stayed on, asked Minnesotans to social distance, wear their mask and to get vaccinated. And because of that, we put a cap on how far it would go. A lot of the health experts would tell us that the transmissibility of that variant and how much it was in our community would have spiked probably beyond what we saw in November, in December and equated into a massive run on our hospitals that could potentially have overrun it. You’re seeing that play itself out in places like India today at 2% vaccination rates, that’s what happens. We didn’t do that.

Governor Walz: (06:18)
The rate is coming down, but I want to note, and I’m sure Commissioner Malcolm will note that is still too high of where it stands. We need to continue to depress that number. It will continue to naturally start to fall off now because the surge has gone over, but what we don’t want to do is what we saw through the months of June, July, and August last year. It plateaued and didn’t go any lower. We need to drive it down to nothing.

Governor Walz: (06:42)
Over two and a half million Minnesotans have had the vaccine. Over two million of you are fully vaccinated. These vaccines, I would just remind everyone, hundreds of millions of doses have been given. They’ve been given over now roughly almost a seven month period and they are incredibly safe and almost unimaginably effective. At this point in time, if you get this vaccine, you are not going to die from it and the chance of even being hospitalized is incredibly small. We’ve come too far, Minnesota.

Governor Walz: (07:12)
Those of you who are out there, and there’s a lot of you out there, especially younger people who said, you know what? Let’s let the vulnerable get theirs first. I don’t need to be in line in front of them. Let my grandparents get it first. Get those who have underlying health conditions. Let’s wait until it’s our turn. It’s your turn. If you’re out there right now, and you’re 16 and above, get your vaccine. You can walk in, this is a process that you can go in, the whole process will take you five minutes. They’ll monitor you for 15 minutes and you’ll be back doing whatever you need to do. You need to help Minnesota now. I’m asking you, give us a hand to get this last little bit. So they’re available everywhere and go on that site at the bottom vaccine connector.

Governor Walz: (07:48)
Here’s what happened on stopping the third wave of what you’re seeing on this. It was a combination of things, the distancing, the mastering and the vaccinations help. We’re seeing now is case counts and hospitalizations are going down. They’re still too high. We are still losing Minnesotans today and we can save those lives if we get folks vaccinated and we continue a little while longer on the things that need to be done. And we stopped that overwhelming surge that was coming because we were far enough along when it came because of the sense of urgency so many of you showed. So thank you for that.

Governor Walz: (08:21)
And I don’t know, it’s often when some of you went out, you went to the Mall of America, you went somewhere and you got a shot. You can say with certainty and the science backs you up, those shots save lives. You saved neighbors’ lives, you made it better for folks, and it’s starting to return us to where we want to be. And that’s what you’re probably here today. We’ve asked much of you. We followed the science. We tried to strike a proper balance. We have tried the best to get this right with the intention of saving lives, preserving hospital capacity and striking the proper balance to understand how incredibly challenging it’s been. So we’ve got a three-step plan that’s going to come. At the same time, we’re going to ramp up, step up and put our foot down on the gas on the vaccinations. The end.

Governor Walz: (09:03)
… up and put our foot down on the gas, on the vaccinations to end the statewide COVID-19 restrictions by May 28th. And we’ll drop the state mask mandate by July 1st, or if we can hit 70% vaccinations because that has a incredible impact on what happens. And then of course, what we’re all going to do, we’re going to have a great summer, and this is right in front of us right now. So what we believe is cases are receding.

Governor Walz: (09:24)
We’ve protected our healthcare capacity. Our vaccine progress continues to be the best in the nation and we’re relentless around it. And I want to make note of this, the issue of equity and vaccines, whether it’s geographic equity to Greater Minnesota or to the Twin Cities, but especially amongst those community hardest hit and communities of color. Minnesota has got a plan on this. We are executing that plan. We are holding ourselves accountable and putting that data out there. And our plan was to make sure by the time we got to May 28th, if we execute to the best of our ability and folks help us and our community partners help us with this, that we will have equity. And it will not matter if you’re black, indigenous, LatinX, or white, you will have the same vaccination rates across the state and across those ethnic and social economic groups. That plan is in place. That’s where this leads to. And they’re readily available.

Governor Walz: (10:14)
And I want to, and commissioner Malcolm will do a good job of this, caution those who are nervous, myself included that this is a change back to that. We’ve got a little bit more work to do. We’re sitting at about 60%. While that blunted a lot of it, we still saw some pretty high capacities. And I said, we’re still losing way too many Minnesotans, 13 today, that those can be almost all of them preventable if we continue to do the things that we need to do that’s necessary.

Governor Walz: (10:43)
So here’s the way the steps will work. Starting tomorrow. at noon, we begin these steps, especially outdoors. And I want to be clear about this, the outdoor piece that we’ve learned over the last year, much safer activities outdoors, much less chance of transmission, much more ability to do what you want to do. That coincides perfectly with Minnesotans getting back outdoors. It’s not a coincidence that many of these respiratory diseases follow that pattern of starting to ramp up in the fall, spiking in the winter, and coming back down as we get to spring and almost non-existent during the summer. That’s where we’re at. So it makes perfect sense that we should do that. No capacity or distancing outside at outdoor events, no mask requirements for outdoor venues smaller than 500. Meaning if you’re at a large stadium like the Twins game or the Saints game, or at a music festival, you’ll still be wearing masks till we hit that 70% or till July 1st.

Governor Walz: (11:35)
Indoor events, we’ve increased the occupancy on some of our larger events and then increased group sizes. Also on social gatherings, no limit outsides. Indoors, we’ve increased that to 50. And again, this is following the science, following the transmission, but I want to be clear and Commissioner Malcolm will say this. Anytime you make a move, you increase the risk. The question that’s always been around is how do we mitigate the risk to best for our building? And what’s an acceptable risk of people doing it? Minnesotans have done this as well as any state. You’ve taken up on yourself to make sure you’re not putting others at risk. Restaurants, there is no occupancy limits outside or distancing requirements, a good time of the year for that. You can get outside, you can set up. We have a lot of patios and opportunities that were built over the last year. Indoor table size will increase to 10 and the mandatory closing times will end tomorrow at noon. So you can stay open until state closing times.

Governor Walz: (12:26)
And step two, this is the one we’re going for Minnesota. We got three weeks, we’ve got 22 days. We have a vaccination pace that must stay as high as it is. Our hope is that after many of you listening to this, let’s just go get it done and end this thing. That is what we’re really asking you to do. At that point, all capacity limits and distancing requirements, indoors and outdoors will end. The only requirements that will be in place at that time is the masking indoors. And for the largest outdoor events, once again, until we hit 70% vaccination rates or July 1st. At the doses that we could get from the federal government and at a pace that we were at about a month ago, obviously the universe of folks who aren’t vaccinated is shrinking. So it becomes a little harder, but we have the doses that we can get this done just as quickly as possible if Minnesotans are willing to get out there and get it done.

Governor Walz: (13:17)
And businesses continue to have limited plans in place and Commissioner Grove will talk about this. Please expect that a lot of businesses, whether it be on airlines or whether it be large department stores, grocery stores and things, none of what we’re doing here prohibits them for putting things into place or local entities. If a city or a county or school district wants to do those things because of they know their situation well, they’re allowed to do that, but the business limit plans, these plans have been in place since last June. There’s no new added requirements to them, but key consumer protections are still will remain in place just till we get to the end of this.

Governor Walz: (13:57)
And then of course, step three, when we hit 70% of 16+, that’s about 3.1 million. You see it up there at 3,087,404 Minnesotans, the statewide mask mandate will end. And many of you will choose to continue to wear them. Many have told me, it’s the first year in a long time they never got a cold. There’s just things that you can do, but that will be back then to make that decision for you or private businesses to make that decision. Just so you know, that’s 473,000 doses. Do the math. We can do this. We’ve had days and Commissioner Malcolm will tell you this when we were at our peak, where we can vaccinate an awful lot of people and we can do it awfully fast. I would like us again to maybe see the website, get a little bit overwhelmed here, to see some of you who said I kind of been waiting or whatever. Let’s just hammer this thing out.

Governor Walz: (14:43)
It’s 473. And then just for the rest of you, this will be ongoing. I think it looks like now, and I can’t speak with certainty on this, but it looks like there are probably booster shots into the future, but it won’t be this. It’ll be like how you get your flu shot. And those will be organized. You might do it on your yearly checkup with your doctor, or there may be flu clinics and COVID clinics set up where we can get folks vaccinated. And again, those local jurisdictions can still make their own decisions. And here we go, we’re ready to go. You need to get your shot. Keeping in mind, our little ones still aren’t there yet. And we’ll talk about this. Just because the school year coincides so closely with this, our safe learning plans that puts most of these decisions in the hand of local officials, we’ll continue on with them.

Governor Walz: (15:26)
Well over 90% of our students are back in in-person learning, but we’ll continue this out. Most schools will end that first week of June. And then at that point in time, the safe learning plan will expire. And we’ll talk about what we’re doing with summer school and into the fall. That gives us an opportunity to get these little ones tested. Just as a side note, the 12 to 15 age group, that consists of about 284,000 young Minnesotans. 70% of that is about 200,000. We can have the doses to get them done. Again, I encourage parents to talk to their pediatricians. We anticipate maybe many of these shots will be given in doctor’s offices or at clinics wherever you feel most comfortable with your children, or will have the opportunity to make them available at state sites. We don’t have that authorization yet. We anticipate maybe in the next week or two that that may be coming, but we need to start planning about them. But just be smart and know that our little ones aren’t there yet.

Governor Walz: (16:16)
We know we had a tragedy here a week ago where we lost a beautiful, sweet, little first grader in this. While rare, it still happens and no family should have to go through that. We have the capacity to really help them and then get to the lake. This is where we’re at. These things, I hope some of you are noticing, May 28th puts it before Memorial Day weekend. That’s going to be an important date for many of us. It’s going to be a time to reflect on those we lost this year. It’s going to be a time to reflect on those heroes who sacrificed. As we said in the beginning, whether they were public health officials that were out there, frontline healthcare workers, frontline food service workers, it’s pretty important time because we take that weekend to remember those who are willing to raise their hand and give their life in protection of democracy of this country.

Governor Walz: (17:03)
A lot of times this year, that’s exactly what we were asking people to do in the line of a pandemic that we knew very little about and that was incredibly dangerous. So Memorial Day should be a special time here, a time of reflection and a time again over these next three weeks that we return to normalcy. So our path forward is pretty clear. Minnesota now, the next three weeks, really it’s on you to get the vaccines. It’s on you to talk to your neighbors. It’s on you to talk to your doctors. We have them available. They’re out there. Every single one who gets that pushes us further. And I want to be clear on so many of these things. This is just the floor. I think the health officials would like to see us as this continues on to continue to push that number from 70%, probably closer to 80% or 85%. When it comes to things like measles, we have 92% of people on that and we still see some outbreaks around that. So it’s important for us to continue to just keep bumping up. But over the next 21 days, it’s really our goal to move from 60% to 70% of vaccinations, which will have a dramatic-

Governor Walz: (18:03)
From 60 to 70% of vaccinations, which will have a dramatic impact, and the modeling shows this, dropping off on hospitalizations, dropping off on deaths and dropping off on the community spread. So, never been easier. I’m going to keep harping on this, I know you’re sick of seeing us, seeing me in particular on this. The way to not see me anymore is, is get a vaccine and end this thing. That’s what we need to do. And those of you have been hesitant on this and you’re looking forward to it and you’ve been frustrated and you think I’ve gotten this wrong, get the vaccine to make sure you’re around next November then you can cast that vote. This is your time don’t blow this now. We’ve got the chance to get there. And every Minnesotans going to get this done and get it together.

Governor Walz: (18:41)
So roll up your sleeves, Minnesota. This is a great day. There’s been many of these days that have been very difficult, but you’ve listened, you’ve taken them in heart, you looked out for your neighbor, we took care of our own. And now we’re on those final mile or so of this marathon. Let’s win this thing. Let’s end the strong. Let’s recognize that there’s still much more work to do. But I also think today, pause for a minute, we’re here. We’re here. We’re here. We’re here. We’re going to have a summer where it’s just the simple pleasures will be back again. And with that to always keep me grounded, to keep me informed and to make sure that Minnesotans have the very best health advice for them. Commissioner Malcolm.

Commissioner Malcolm: (19:25)
Thank you, Governor Walz. Well, it is a good day to be here. It was 14 months ago to the day that we gathered up at the Capitol in the press briefing room to announce Minnesota’s first confirmed case of what we then called novel coronavirus. We had known for six weeks or so in advance of that, that it was going to happen, but it was March 6th when we announced that first confirmed case. And we knew then that we were going to have some challenges and some hard days ahead, but we could not have predicted all of the twists and turns that would come. And as the Governor has said, we have faced some truly historic challenges this last year and it has strained us in so many ways. It’s meant disruptions and loss for all of us. And for many it’s meant lost jobs and income. For so many it meant disrupted school years and family plans. For way too many it brought frightening new health problems. And for far too many, it meant the loss of beloved family members, friends and coworkers. I think that’s probably true of most people by this time that you know somebody who’s been deeply affected by COVID-19.

Commissioner Malcolm: (20:40)
We’ve had to learn to work differently and to consider in a new light things that we have taken for granted for so long. And this is a good day to share the positive news about the plans ahead and the path forward to increasing connectivity and normalcy. But as the Governor has said, I will say more in a minute, we do still have some work ahead to ensure that Minnesotans can make well informed decisions and to make sure that we can get all Minnesotans protected. And it’s a day to say, thank you as the Governor has been doing.

Commissioner Malcolm: (21:15)
And I want to thank the Governor as well for the very thoughtful approach he’s taken, not just to today’s announcement, but really throughout this pandemic. No governor has an easy job, but to make these tough decisions and to try to get it right in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic is a pressure I can’t imagine even though I have observed it and shared some of it. But it’s been apparent throughout this response that the Governor takes very seriously, that idea that he just described, the balance between health economy and societal wellbeing and that Venn diagram, that you’ve seen many times over this last year. And striking that balance is incredibly difficult. It has made for many a long day and long meetings looking at tons of data, hearing from people with legitimate but often competing perspectives on things. And to try to get the balance right, has been quite an impressive thing to watch and participate in. And the Governor’s always been willing to listen and continues to do that with regard to the importance of staying vigilant on the remaining health risks that we have here.

Commissioner Malcolm: (22:27)
The Governor has thanked Minnesotans and I just want to echo that, we’re here today because of you, because of all the things that Minnesotans have done right. We’ve done the health mitigations as well as any state and we’re proceeding well on getting vaccinated, which is the biggest thing we can do at this point. And as the Governor showed you with the data, we know that those practices of adhering to social distancing, wearing masks, staying home when people are sick and getting tested when they need to, all of that has made a big difference and it has saved lives. And especially the big vaccine progress we’ve made in the last several months has helped us to avert what would have been a truly terrible crisis.

Commissioner Malcolm: (23:14)
We have made great progress on vaccines, and there are still a lot of people who are unprotected and susceptible to COVID. And for those who are not yet vaccinated, I just want to say that many of the activities that are no longer going to be prohibited by government action are still risky for people who aren’t vaccinated. So we will continue to urge that that folks make well informed decisions about the risk they are putting themselves and other people at, if they remain un-vaccinated. And we’ve worked hard and are working hard to make vaccines more convenient and equitable and accessible, and to give people the information they want and need to make the choice that is theirs as to whether to get vaccinated. And we need to do much more in each of these areas in will in the weeks ahead.

Commissioner Malcolm: (24:07)
And my friend and colleague Commissioner Grove will talk about the critical importance of recovering and rebuilding and reconnecting our businesses, our communities, and so much more. And we need to keep doing that work of reconnecting while still keeping up our guard against COVID to protect the progress we’ve made. And frankly, to keep on doing some of those things that have turned out to be best practices, about improved hygiene practices and so forth and personal responsibility when we are sick.

Commissioner Malcolm: (24:42)
So long as this virus is circulating, as it still is here at the high case rates that the Governor mentioned and around the world, it remains a threat to all of us. Every person COVID-19 infects is a chance for others to become sick and for the virus to mutate into new forms that could test us again. And that truly tragic stories, unimaginable almost, coming out of India over these last weeks are a reminder that the progress we’ve made here in Minnesota, the security that we are beginning to feel in our capability to manage this virus going forward is not the experience that many people are having around the world. And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that a threat to the health of the public anywhere in the world is a threat to people’s health everywhere. We truly are connected, and we need to work together to finish this job globally.

Commissioner Malcolm: (25:39)
The Governor alluded to the importance of the variants, and I just will continue to say that is the very real threat and the very real wild card here. So far, thank heaven, the vaccines have been protective against the major strains that have been circulating. But the more this virus continues to exist and spread, the more chance it has to throw off new mutations on the virus that that will just continue to pose a risk. So vaccination around the world remains a critical, critical job.

Commissioner Malcolm: (26:14)
And in closing, I just want to thank also the doctors, the nurses, all the healthcare providers and all of the public health workers around the state. You have done incredible work and the state, frankly, can never thank you enough. We know the pandemic is not over yet. We know there’s still hard work to do, but the path forward is very much in our hands. We have the information and the tools and the resources to continue this progress, and we must continue and will the vital work of prevention and precaution, even as we look forward to much, much brighter days ahead. And with that, I’m happy to introduce Commissioner Steve Grove.

Commissioner Steve Grove: (26:54)
[inaudible 00:26:54] Yeah. Well, thank you, Commissioner, Governor. You said it well, today is a good day. Today’s a very good day. It’s good to be with you. And it-

Commissioner Malcolm: (27:03)
Good day. Today’s a very good day. It’s good to be with you. And it has been over years, the commissioner and governor said that we have been working with workers and businesses across Minnesota on navigating this pandemic. We have had hundreds of meetings with thousands of businesses and workers, and they have all made countless sacrifices to keep our state safe. Time and again, we’ve come back to these leaders and asked for help. We’ve asked for help in keeping workers safe. We’ve asked for help in keeping gatherings to a minimum to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’ve asked for help in distributing over four million masks across Minnesota to keep people safe. And most importantly, we’ve asked for help in getting Minnesotans and Minnesota workers vaccinated, which is the most important thing moving forward as well, to get this pandemic behind us. And every single time we have asked for help, the business community and workers have answered.

Commissioner Malcolm: (27:48)
We are incredibly fortunate in Minnesota to have such a strong civic community, the kind of community where government and business can actually work together to get things done. And we don’t take that for granted. The work that our economy has done together, with our health department, with our state government, has quite literally saved thousands of lives. And we will forever be thankful for that.

Commissioner Malcolm: (28:09)
This is a big culmination in the journey. It certainly isn’t the end of the journey, but we have a clear path forward now towards fully reopening Minnesota and ending COVID-19 restrictions. As the governor said, May 28th is that big date when restrictions will be gone. The masking mandate will soon follow. We know, in talking to lots of businesses, that they’re going to try different things in the coming months. Smart business owners know that some caution here is advisable, and that staging things out might be useful for some businesses. That consumer confidence that’s so important to getting our economy moving again means different businesses will try different things in the coming months, rather than just snapping back to some pre-COVID reality.

Commissioner Malcolm: (28:46)
But the difference is, today we’re announcing that due to the great progress we’ve made at vaccinations, the time for the state to play that role in making those decisions is starting to fade, and a new era of personal responsibility for businesses, workers, and customers is going to take center stage. And the most important personal responsibility is, of course, as we’ve said many times a day, to get vaccinated. It remains the clear path forward for our public health, but also for our economy. The more Minnesotans who are vaccinated, the stronger our collective consumer confidence is, the more people that want to get out and take jobs where they’re open, the more people that are going to want to fill restaurants and concert venues and sports venues, all the things we love, vaccines are the pathway for us to get there. Quite simply, vaccines equal confidence, and confidence equals economic growth.

Commissioner Malcolm: (29:32)
So as we, as an agency in government, focus on bringing jobs back to the state and helping job seekers find many of the great opportunities that are out there today, we know the most important driver of all that is going to be rising revenues. So we ask all Minnesotans to get out and shop, get out to your restaurants, get out to your concert venues and your sports games, spend money at those local businesses that you want to see continue into the future. It’s critical for the future of our economy that we all begin to spend our money at the places we know and love here in Minnesota. And recognize that while today’s a milestone, the journey isn’t over. We have an economic recovery ahead of us, and we’ve got to make sure that economic recovery is inclusive, that it creates jobs for all Minnesotans, and that we rescale our economy for the jobs of the future.

Commissioner Malcolm: (30:16)
Our economy has changed a lot in the last year, and it’s not just going to go back to the way that it was. And it can’t. We’ve got to focus on the persistent inequalities that exist in Minnesota’s economy. And we’ve got to make sure we’re looking to the future for the kinds of jobs that have longer-term growth. We know lots of folks are hiring. We know that at our department, we’re focusing every day on connecting workers with those jobs. We think if we work together, as we have throughout this entire pandemic, we can have a great economic recovery ahead of us as one Minnesota. So thanks, everyone. And Governor, back to you.

Governor Walz: (30:50)
Well said, commissioner. And there’s two here, there’s countless others. And I just can’t say it enough. We all did this together, Minnesota. I’ve been surrounded by incredible people, incredible talent of trying to weigh out the data that’s out there from health data to the wellbeing, as we said to the economic data. Too many to name, but I am going to name one. Every week, I look at all of the data that’s coming in, all of the health data that’s correlated all of these people, epidemiologists, economists putting things in. And then I look at what all the other states are doing. How are they managing this? What are they putting in?

Governor Walz: (31:22)
And there’s somebody that has to collate all that and put it into a workable place so that I can look at that and try and digest it. So I’m going to give a personal thank you to Patrick [Tanis 00:31:29] the incredible work it’s done in our office, as being the center point across this.

Governor Walz: (31:34)
And here we go, Minnesotans. The bats are cracking, as we talked about, as we speak, I hope they are, over at Target Field on the Twins side, the chance to a full stadium of [inaudible 00:31:44] are coming soon. Opportunities for our children to be in the backyard with their friends, and you to be sitting around with the in-laws and everyone else around that fire, thinking about what this last year meant and how we came together. We’ve got this thing, Minnesota. You’ve heard it so many times. Continue to do the right things. Get that vaccine. Let’s push that number up, and then let’s get to May 28th where we can all celebrate together.

Governor Walz: (32:08)
So thank you, Minnesota. And you’ll hear more from us. You’ll hear the updates. Go to our websites, go to get the vaccine, roll up that sleeve and get it done. And again, what I need you to do is talk to your neighbors. Talk to your relatives, talk to those folks who maybe haven’t got it done yet. And just say, “Let’s just do it. Now’s the time. We can get out.” So, thank you all.

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