Walz: New website will help Minnesotans find virus testing
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz announced a new website Friday to help Minnesota residents find a COVID-19 testing location as the state matched its highest one-day death toll from the coronavirus.
In a statement, Walz said access to testing is “critical to helping moving Minnesota forward during this pandemic.” The new COVID-19 website gives residents access to their closest testing site, as well as information about the coronavirus outbreak.
“Aggressive and expanded testing is an essential part of our overall strategy to mitigate this pandemic,” state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
Walz earlier announced the state had struck a deal with the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic to test as many as 20,000 people per day for the coronavirus. Rapid and widespread testing for COVID-19 is seen as a key for reopening businesses nationwide amid the pandemic.
Minnesota health officials said Friday another 21 people have died of coronavirus complications, matching the highest one-day death toll announced Thursday. That brings the state’s overall death count to 221. The Department of Health also said Friday there are 243 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising Minnesota’s total to 3,185.
Health officials have said the real number of Minnesotans infected with the coronavirus is likely much higher because most people don’t qualify for testing. Walz has said the new case numbers will climb as the state implements its plan for increasing testing capacity.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan spoke at Walz’s news briefing Friday about the difficulties remote learning has posed for students, families and teachers as Minnesota schools remain shut down. On Thursday, Walz said schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, but stay-at-home restrictions will be eased to allow up to 100,000 people to return to work on Monday.
“This is a really difficult time for folks, and it’s going to take all of us to come together to support our schools and communities,” said Flanagan, the mother of a first-grade girl who is learning from home.