May 7, 2021 - News

How Minnesota's COVID reopening stacks up to other states

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. Photo: Photo: Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Immediately after Gov. Tim Walz announced his plan for fully reopening Minnesota, Republican Senate leader Paul Gazelka said the plan was "not good enough, not soon enough."

Context: Walz's timeline puts Minnesota in the middle of the pack when it comes to lifting restrictions and ditching masks.

  • Most Republican-led states, especially in the South, have been without restrictions or with few restrictions for months.
  • Walz is also well behind neighboring states. Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota no longer have restrictions. But Illinois and Michigan still have mask mandates and business restrictions.
  • Wisconsin's restrictions and mask mandate, put in place by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, were struck down by its Supreme Court, thought some cities have kept their own restrictions.

Blue state of play: Walz's plan puts him near the front of Democratic governors in lifting restrictions, at least for now.

  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has been one of the more aggressive Democratic governors for easing restrictions. He is largely allowing counties to impose their own regulations.
  • Pennsylvania is planning to fully open on May 30, roughly the same pace as Minnesota. New York, California and Oregon will all lift restrictions to some degree throughout May and June.
  • But many other blue states still don't have a plan to lift all restrictions.

State of mask mandates: As of early this week, 17 states had fully lifted their mask mandates — and all of them except Wisconsin are led by Republicans.

  • Some Democratic governors, like those in Michigan and Pennsylvania, also have a 70% vaccination threshold for ending mandates — but both lag Minnesota on that metric.

The bottom line: Walz might not be moving quickly enough for Republican lawmakers in the state, but his new plan currently puts him among the more aggressive Democratic governors.


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