ROCHESTER, Minn. - Governor Walz made a stop in the Med City Friday, highlighting Minnesota's prize-filled push to promote vaccinations.
Touring Mayo Field alongside members of the Rochester Honkers, the governor encouraged Minnesotans to take part in the "Your Shot to Summer" campaign. By offering rewards to those who roll up their sleeves by July 1st, the effort aims to reach a benchmark of 70 percent of Minnesotans 16 and up receive their first vaccine dose over the next few weeks.
"If you need a little extra push, go online and pick one of these incentives, and come out and watch a baseball game. Because that's how we get back to summer," Walz told reporters.
The governor commends the dedication Minnesotans have shown in taking the state from having one of the nation's highest COVID infection rates, to boasting one of its highest vaccination rates. Distribution efforts by the City of Rochester and Olmsted County have been particularly exceptional, Walz said, with local residents being vaccinated at one of the highest rates in the country.
"It's incredible that 95% of those 65 and above are vaccinated, and nearly 80% of 16 plus. That is exactly what we need," Walz said. "That translates into the inability of the virus to move in our population, the inability of the virus to mutate. It almost absolutely guarantees you you’re not going to end up in the hospital, and it’s as close to 100% as possible that you’re not going to die."
However, as the state approaches a 70 percent vaccination rate among adults, Governor Walz says he worries about the spread of coronavirus between those without immunity.
"I have to tell you, what’s keeping me up right now is in this state, we’ve got about 30 percent of our folks not vaccinated. We’re still seeing, every single day, 8 to 10 people dying from this virus. The folks that can get it is a much smaller universe, but the variants we're seeing, especially the British variant, the UK variant, is spreading faster."
The governor continued, "all eight of the deaths we reported today were preventable. If folks would've gotten vaccinated two weeks ago, those eight people today would still be with us. It's that simple."
And with some local leaders having expressed concern over the impact rapid rollbacks of coronavirus restrictions might have on underserved communities, Governor Walz tells KIMT Minnesota is committed to making it as easy as possible for everyone to get a shot.
"The concerns about health inequities are real. They were real before Covid and they’re real now. The state of Minnesota made a commitment a little over a month ago to make sure allocations of vaccines met those demands. We actually allocated more to underserved communities than any state in the nation, and because of that, that gap is closing."