'Please Minnesota, stay home this Thanksgiving,' health care workers plead

State health officials and health care workers are pleading with Minnesotans to stay home this Thanksgiving to help slow the spread of COVID-19, saying that what we do over the next few weeks will determine what the next few months look like for the state. 

“Please Minnesota, stay home this Thanksgiving so you don’t have to ring in the new year with me,” said Kelley Anaas, an ICU nurse. Anaas spoke at a news conference Monday coming off a 32-hour weekend working in the COVID-19 unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. 

The rate of increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota “has just accelerated far beyond even our most conservative projections,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Monday. 

It took Minnesota 29 weeks from when the state saw its first case of COVID-19 to hit 100,000 cases of the coronavirus. Six weeks after that, on Nov. 10, the state surpassed 200,000 cases. Malcolm said at the time, she and other health officials estimated Minnesota would surpass 300,000 COVID-19 cases by Thanksgiving. Now, she says Minnesota is on a trajectory to hit 300,000 cases by next week.  

Minnesota is could potentially exceed 10,000 newly reported cases a day by Thanksgiving, Malcolm said. 

With COVID-19 infections increasing rapidly across the state, Malcolm says gathering with people outside your immediate household is much riskier now than it was a couple of weeks ago. 

“Any time you gather with people you don’t live with, the risk of infection increases for everyone– for you, for them and for the broader community,” she said. 

Malcolm reiterated the state and federal guidance urging people to celebrate Thanksgiving only with members of their immediate household. 

“As tempting as it to just stick with our cherished traditions this year, we really need people to reconsider and frankly not gather with other households, especially if those households include people in a high risk category for severe illness,” Malcolm said. 

Minnesota reported 7,444 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and 12 more deaths. There are currently over 1,500 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Minnesota, 324 of whom are in the ICU. 

Governor Tim Walz echoed the calls from health care workers, and said to his critics, "wear your mask and stay healthy if for no other reason than to stay healthy and vote me out in two years."