Updated: March 06, 2021 02:19 PM
Created: March 06, 2021 10:27 AM
Saturday, Gov. Tim Walz highlighted the state's COVID-19 vaccine program for educators, school staff and child care workers on what turned out to be a milestone day for the state.
The governor visited a vaccination site at Mall of America with Minnesota Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller and — marking the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 case documented in Minnesota — reflected on the past year.
"It seems almost unimaginable, one year ago today at about this very hour, I was with [Minnesota Department of Health] Commissioner [Jan] Malcolm and others announcing the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state of Minnesota," Walz said Saturday afternoon. "Three hundred sixty-five days later, over 6,500 deaths and tens of thousands of infections and a whole lot of personal sacrifice by Minnesotans."
The state also surpassed 1 million Minnesotans having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose on Saturday.
"It's an incredible testament to collaboration," Walz said, noting all of the work by MDH, local public health officials and health care workers across the state.
As of Saturday, more than 543,000 Minnesotans had completed the vaccine series.
Walz added, "An incredibly great spring and summer is right around the corner," urging Minnesotans to just keep following health guidance for a couple more months as the vaccine supply ramps up.
The governor also took time to highlight vaccinations for child care workers and teachers.
"We're here today to note that we've vaccinated 55% of our child care and teachers," Walz said. He added that, when the pandemic is over, the first stop he'd like to make is to a school to see kids again receiving in-person instruction and also being able to get back to the social interaction and gatherings they're used to.
"Minnesota's teachers and child care workers have made extraordinary sacrifices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for the benefit of our students and children," Walz added. "Vaccinating more and more of our teachers and child care workers means that our students are able to return to in-person learning. As a parent and a former classroom teacher, I am proud of our state's vaccination progress and I look forward to building on this success until all of our educators have received the vaccine."
"We know this has been an incredibly difficult time for our students, our families, our staff, our communities at large, and we knew that this time coming was going to be incredibly important," Mueller said. "We just want to say 'thank you' for all of the work our educators and school staff have done, our child care providers, in making sure our students and families stayed safe and well."
Since the state's testing program for educators began on Jan. 4, the state says 96% of school districts have signed up to participate along with 41% on non-public schools and two out of four tribal schools.
Copyright 2021 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company