Coronavirus cases in Minnesota have begun peaking again, with 1,000 cases recorded each day over the last five days. That is reason to put up our guard so we can keep our businesses open.

The 1,178 cases reported Monday came from 69 of 87 Minnesota counties. Officials said the virus is more widespread than in the spring. Part of the growth in cases, to be sure, comes from more testing as Minnesota had 24,000 tests per day for the last week.

And the positivity rate has been at or slightly above the 5% threshold for 15 days, another sign for concern. While outbreaks at meat packing plants and other employers seem to have subsided, cases have spread in large group gatherings like weddings, funerals and political rallies.

The good news is that state health officials say the spread in bars and restaurants appears to have slowed as owners and managers follow masking and social distancing rules. Locally, Mankato police have been patrolling bars and restaurants on weekends and other times to make sure patrons and workers are following social distancing guidelines.

Hospital admissions statewide have been rising but visits to ICU have been leveling off. There is better treatment available now as well. So there are some positives.

But the onset of colder weather will undoubtedly push more people inside and likely create more risk for spread if people do not practice social distancing. Health experts say a vaccine may be ready as early as the end of the year, but may not be widely available until next spring or later. So that leaves room for more social distancing.

In Iowa, bars and restaurants have been opened and closed numerous times due to outbreaks. North and South Dakota now have the highest per capita rates in the country at about 600 per million people per day. Minnesota has a rate of 214. Wisconsin, forbidden by its courts from imposing more restrictions, has rates of 454 per million per day. Iowa has a positivity rate of 16 percent to 19 percent.

We don’t want to follow the poor examples set by our neighboring states. Those states have not imposed mask mandates or enforced social distancing. As a result, rates of the disease are spiking and businesses are forced to close.

The fatigue of following COVID rules can be frustrating. But we must stay the course, despite some virus spikes, to keep businesses operating in Minnesota by keeping to our social distancing protocols.

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