ST. PAUL -- Going into the Labor Day holiday and the start of the school year, Governor Tim Walz and health officials are making a renewed appeal to Minnesotans to stay vigilant when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx visited the state earlier this week and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says our current numbers look much like those of other states right before they spiked.

We all saw the dramatic pictures from Texas and Arizona, Georgia, Florida where they were also, as you note, in a pretty stable looking pattern until they started to accelerate and then hit what is known in the epidemiologic circles as logarithmic spread where it just begins to build and build exponentially on each other and that's what we're trying to avoid.

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Minnesota’s case numbers had started to decline in June but jumped and continued climbing following the fourth of July holiday.

Director of Infectious Diseases Kris Ehresman says they have recently seen a number of outbreaks resulting from private social gatherings including weddings, funerals, and parties.

One outbreak involved a wedding reception in southwestern Minnesota which exceeded the executive order guidelines for capacity as well as social distancing with 275 guests in attendance and guests did not wear masks. We now have 56 cases associated with this wedding and there are nine counties involved.

Recently, the number of cases has also been dramatically on the rise in neighboring states South Dakota and Iowa.

Health officials are discouraging getting together for the upcoming holiday weekend and say the best ways to fight the spread of the virus are still social distancing, handwashing, and masking.