Walz pledges more testing and incentives to get young people vaccinated

the governor speaks with a health care employee
Gov. Tim Walz spoke with a staffer at the COVID-19 testing site in Duluth on Thursday.
Dan Kraker | MPR News

Gov. Tim Walz toured a COVID-19 testing site in Duluth Thursday morning — one of more than a dozen community testing sites around the state.

Walz said officials will soon announce an additional expansion of testing capacity around the state, as hospitals deal with another surge in COVID cases that are filling up ICU beds. Officials already announced earlier this week that the state will open its 14th testing facility Oct. 19 in Morris.

“We're going to massively expand our testing capacity across Minnesota again,” Walz vowed.

The governor also said the state will launch new incentives to get 12- to 17-year-olds vaccinated.

The Minnesota Department of Health is seeking donations of services, products and unique experiences to offer as incentives to encourage young people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Those incentives will be promoted to 12- to 17-year-olds, who are already eligible to be vaccinated, and to 5- to 11-year-olds, who Walz said he anticipates will become eligible the last week in October or the first week of November.

“That will start to relieve some of the pressure,'“ Walz said, before again urging Minnesotans to get vaccinated if they haven’t done so. He said 87 percent of Minnesotans hospitalized with COVID-19, and all 25 deaths reported on Thursday, had not been inoculated against the virus.

“These are the most tested and used vaccines that we have seen. They were decades in the development of this. And to not do so not only puts you, your family [at risk], but it puts your community at risk."

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