Coronavirus in Minnesota: Masks optional at MSP, Metro Transit, after federal ruling

On Tuesdays, the MinnPost provides weekly updates covering COVID-19 developments in Minnesota from the previous Wednesday through the present.

This week in COVID-19 news

In Minnesota, COVID-19 cases continue to rise, but, so far, there hasn’t been a concomitant increase in hospitalizations and deaths, yet.

That could change, but it keeps track of what’s happening elsewhere, where we see cases rising without a significant rise in hospitalizations and deaths.

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In an interview with mpr on mondayMinnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm called the recent increase in cases in Minnesota fairly moderate.

“We are not seeing the kind of rapid, almost vertical increase in cases that we saw in December. We’re watching it very closely, but so far we feel a little more comfortable with what’s going on,” she said.

She told MPR that it is clear that we will live with COVID-19 as a recurring problem in the future, but that people are likely to make more personal decisions about their safety amid the virus. For now, vaccines hold up well against BA.2, the most transmissible omicron subvariant, but COVID-19 is spreading globally, and with that, there are plenty of opportunities for worse mutations.

Data from the Metropolitan Council shows viral RNA in the Twin Cities, measured in sewage, is still low but rising alongside official case counts. The “stealth” BA.2 omicron variant is dominant, making up more than 90 percent of the viral matter found in wastewater.

In travel news, a federal judge in Florida struck down the Centers for Disease Control requirement that masks be worn on public transport and on planes. (Flying soon? The New York Times increased its “How safe are you from COVID when you fly?” piece.)

Some cities maintain mask mandates on public transportation. Neither Metro Transit nor MSP International Airport are requiring masks in the wake of the bug. Also, Uber and Lyft both announced that they will eliminate mask requirements for drivers and passengers.


Data from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shows the state added 5,071 new cases of COVID-19 between April 13 and 19, averaging 724 new cases per day, more than last week, which had an average of 513 cases per day.

You may recall that we no longer report the seven-day average of positive cases in this newsletter. This is because a change in federal reporting means that some labs no longer report negative tests to the MDH.

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Deaths and hospitalizations

Minnesota has reported 24 COVID-19 deaths since last Wednesday. Last week, the state reported 30 deaths. (The deaths did not necessarily occur in the week they were reported because deaths are not always reported and confirmed immediately.)

ICU hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased slightly compared to last week, while non-ICU hospitalizations have decreased. As of Tuesday, 21 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, while 205 are hospitalized and not in intensive care. Last Tuesday, 30 people were in intensive care and 160 were hospitalized and not in intensive care. Learn more about current Minnesota hospitalizations here.


The most recent data shows that 66.4 percent of Minnesotans had completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations, while 45.9 percent were up-to-date on their vaccinations (meaning they completed the primary series and received a booster if recommended). A week ago, 66.3 percent of Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series and 45.9 percent were up to date. Plus Data on the state’s vaccination efforts can be found here.

This week on the MinnPost

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