Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said during a Monday press briefing that he predicts 40 to 80 percent of the state’s population will be infected with the coronavirus.
The governor told reporters that “40 to 80 percent of us will eventually get this, even if we shut down now.”
State health officials elaborated on the prediction during their Tuesday press conference.
“We only have four months of data so it’s harder to paint the bigger picture but I do think that that number is pretty indicative,” Walz said, noting that the absence of a vaccine will contribute to the high infection rate.
Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm clarified that the estimate applies to the total time span of the pandemic.
“In terms of the 40 to 80 percent, each year we expect to see about five to 20 percent of the population infected with influenza, and obviously we have vaccines, we have some level of historical immunity. But when you have a population that is completely naive to a new virus, like we have with COVID-19, that’s why you expect to see these higher rates of infection just simply because no one has any immunological history with the virus,” said Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann.
With a population of roughly 5.6 million, a 40 to 80 percent infection rate translates to 2.24 million to 4.48 million people infected.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Minnesota had 262 confirmed COVID-19 cases, one death, and 21 hospitalizations. A total of 88 patients have recovered from the virus and no longer need to be isolated.
The Minnesota Department of Health said it has now tested 5,812 people for the virus.
The governor announced Monday that he will be in self-quarantine for 14 days after a member of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19.
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