Minnesota leaders push food service workers to get vaccinated

With COVID-19 numbers again on the rise, Governor Walz is making a push to get food service workers vaccinated.

Currently, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination in Minnesota. For many restaurant owners, getting their workers vaccinated has been a focus.

As soon as food workers became prioritized for the vaccine, DeGidio's owner Jason Tschida began working the internet and found some openings in Dakota County.

"So I had my laptop with me and I’d run in front of everyone, 'Did you get a shot yet?'" said Tschida. "'Are you anywhere, where are you at?' And I’d put the laptop in front of them and say, 'Fill it out and get an appointment,' and it worked."

But, he said, appointments remain elusive, even with prioritized status. The state is hoping to change that.

"[We] encourage all food service workers to get in line and get this done as quickly as possible," said Governor Walz. "Because every vaccine in an arm is one day closer to getting this thing done."

Appearing at the Mall of America’s vaccination site, Governor Walz said that, with supplies increasing constantly, he wants food industry workers to keep looking for those appointments, pushing that it’s essential they get the shots and vaccine providers to seek those workers out.

"If you are a food service worker, get in that vaccine connecter, obviously indicate you’re a food service worker when you sign up," said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove.

Several restaurant owners and chefs pushed the message too, adding that it’s crucial to keep the industry building back to normal.

"So I want to be hopefully a model to my community as an African American chef to encourage people to come to get the shot, let’s get back to normal and let’s get back to life," said Executive Chef DeMarco Cavil.

At DeGidio's, Tschida has lined up a 500 dose clinic through Hy-Vee to be held in his restaurant in the next couple of weeks to finish his staff and help others.

"And then I’m going to reach out to other restauranteurs who I’ve chatted with that are in the same boat where they have employees they’re just trying to get shots in the arms," he said.