Walz defends Minnesota's rollout of COVID vaccines; nearly 3,000 vaccinated

Minnesota's governor and public health officials are defending the state's rollout of coronavirus vaccines as the process creeps forward.

Only 2,999 people have been vaccinated as of Monday, after the state got 46,800 doses by last Friday.

"I would much rather get this right than get this rushed," Walz said, citing the complex distribution process that relies on hundreds of hospitals, health care providers and pharmacies around the state.

"I’m delighted," infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann added to Walz's assessment of the rollout, noting that health officials initially thought vaccinations wouldn't even start until this week. "I think it’s a wonderful holiday gift that we’ve gotten this far." 

Health officials said it could be a week before they start publishing data about vaccines on their data website -- even though several other states are already doing so.

Minnesota expects 250,000 vaccines by end of 2020

Minnesota expects to have received 250,000 vaccines by the end of the year, Walz said, a total that includes shots from Pfizer and Moderna. 

The rough breakdown of December 2020 vaccines received/expected is: 

  • Last week: 46,800 (Pfizer) 
  • This week: 33,150 (Pfizer), 94,800 (Moderna) 
  • Next week: 42,900 (Pfizer), 32,900 (Moderna)

But given the lag between vaccines arriving and being administered, it appears likely that the total number of people getting a shot by Dec. 31 will be much lower.

Walz isn't planning changes to closure order soon

Walz said he plans to keep his order closing thousands of businesses in place at least through Jan. 10, when it's currently set to end.

"We’re looking to make sure a few days does constitute a pattern," Walz said when I asked why he's not easing his closure order given three weeks of improving case and hospitalization numbers. 

The governor has banned indoor dining, capped fitness center capacity at 25 percent, and stopped youth sports games.

Attorney General Keith Ellison has sued 10 bar, restaurant and gym owners who have defied Walz's closure order this month.