ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Governor Walz and representatives from Minnesota hospitals are urging the public to respect new COVID-19 guidelines to slow the spike in cases in the state as Thanksgiving approaches.
During a news conference on Thursday, Governor Walz was joined by hospital officials to highlight the impact COVID-19 is having on their staff. Officials say 800 Allina workers, 905 Mayo Clinic employees, and 1,200 workers at CentraCare are currently out due to COVID-19 or exposure.
Speaking bluntly on Thursday, Governor Walz urged everyone to do their part to slow the spike in Minnesota.
"We are not helpless here, this is not inevitable," said the governor. "It's not just, 'Aw shucks, just let it go and it will work it's way out.'"
Wednesday, Governor Walz announced a series of new restrictions starting Friday night that would shut down indoor dining at bars and restaurants while closing gyms, and other spots. The governor also asked Minnesotans to keep private gatherings limited to people within the same household.
With that, the governor acknowledged families would have to make a big sacrifice on Thanksgiving by shrinking the size of their gatherings. But Allina Health CEO Cindy Firkins Smith urged Minnesotans to understand the potential consequences of those gatherings.
"You may think that whoever you're going to eat Thanksgiving dinner with is not infected with COVID-19," she explained. "But whether they have symptoms or not, the chances are very high they carry that virus. So someone in that room may infect someone else in that room. And they go out in public and infect someone else and that person infects another three or four people -- and on and on it goes... And some of them are going to end up dying."
"We understand that it's hard to not celebrate Thanksgiving with the people you love," Firkins Smith added. "We all know that, but we don't get to either. The people in the hospital don't get to celebrate Thanksgiving with the people they love. They are going to be watching people die that day."
Minnesota reported a single-day record of 72 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday -- a record which Governor Walz says will likely be broken in the coming days.