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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he's hopeful State Fair can proceed as planned, despite delta variant spread

Gov. Tim Walz urged eligible Minnesotans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to limit new spread of the disease.

Minnesota State Fair 2019
Crowds fill the Fairgrounds on the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights in August 2019. (John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press)
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he remained optimistic that the State Fair would go on as planned next month, despite increasing reports of the COVID-19 delta variant spreading in the state.

The Democratic governor at an unrelated news conference on Tuesday, July 27, said he and health officials were tracking the virus' spread and weighing whether mitigation measures would have to be taken at the 12-day event or as students return to schools in a little more than a month.

“Get the vaccine. We want to do these things. That is the fix in this,” Walz said in a plea to unvaccinated Minnesotans. " The State Fair was the brass ring over the last 18 months to try and get to and we’re so close.”

The comments came before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were set to walk back their guidance on masking in indoor settings, saying vaccinated people (along with those who've not been fully vaccinated) should use masks in parts of the country where COVID-19 is prevalent. The suggestion comes as the delta variant has spurred new cases around the country but especially in communities where people have not been immunized against COVID-19.

Walz said state officials would track the announcement and respond accordingly in the coming days. The governor didn't provide an update on Tuesday about whether the state would call for mask usage in schools.

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"We're tracking this very closely, we have followed CDC guidance, we have followed our health care experts and we have looked at our modeling; we think in Minnesota we put together a testing, a tracking, a mitigation and a vaccination plan that helped us be in an incredibly strong spot," Walz said. "While Minnesota is in the top 15 states for vaccinations, there are still pockets that are unvaccinated. We've got five weeks until school starts and we're having deep conversations every day."

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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