ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday, April 17, ordered flags to half-staff as COVID-19 deaths surpassed 7,000.

Flags on all state and federal buildings will be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, April 19, and again on the 19th of every month to mourn the lives lost to the pandemic.

“As we grapple with the incredible scale of this loss, we must remember that each life taken represents more than just a number,” Walz said.

A year of COVID-19

A look back over the death tallies tells the story of how the pandemic played out in Minnesota.

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It was May 30, 2020, when coronavirus deaths hit 1,000. Minnesotans had been in lockdown since March 27. Bars, restaurants and schools were closed to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. People were hoarding toilet paper and cleaning products. Businesses and churches were scrambling to transition to a virtual platform. The death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25 sparked riots in the Twin Cities.

It took another four months, to Sept. 26, for Minnesota to hit 2,000 deaths. It had become clear by then that the virus targeted the elderly as over half of those who died were in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

Just one month later, on Halloween, a total of 3,000 had died. Testing centers were popping up all over the state as the focus turned toward catching infected folks to slow the spread.

About 5 weeks later, on Dec. 7, the state death toll was at 4,000. A few bars and restaurants, going bankrupt under Walz’s restrictions, started to fight back and were met with warnings, then fines from the state. Weekly protests at the governor’s mansion in St. Paul became the norm.

On Christmas Eve, barely two weeks later, the state reported it had passed 5,000 deaths. Headlines were calling December the state’s deadliest month.

On Jan. 21, 2021, the state hit 6,000 deaths. But vaccines were on the way and people were beginning to feel hopeful.

Nearly three months later, Minnesota has crossed 7,000 deaths.

Of the deaths reported Saturday, two were in their 90s, one was in his or her 80s, two were in their 70s, two were in their 60s, two were in their 50s and one was in his or her 40s. One was from a long-term care or assisted-living facility.

The deaths were in Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Koochiching, McLeod, Ramsey, Waseca and Wright counties.

The state reported another 2,429 infections, increasing Minnesota’s total number of cases to 554,536. Of the cumulative deaths in Minnesota, 62 percent have been in long-term care facilities.

A total of 28,991 — or about 5 percent — of the overall total of those who tested positive since March 2020 have had to be hospitalized.

Overall, there have been 8,804,249 completed tests in the state.

Throughout the state, 1.6 million people — or about 28 percent of the state’s population — have received a completed vaccine series. In Ramsey County, 151,484 people have received both doses. In Washington County, 71,564 and in Dakota County, 114,962.

“Even as the vaccine begins to save lives, thousands of families are mourning loved ones lost to COVID-19,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “More and more Minnesotans are getting the call that a vaccine is available for them. Answer that call. We must continue to take steps to keep each other safe and prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”

Gov. Walz has also ordered all Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings through Tuesday to mourn the eight victims of the FedEx shooting in Indianapolis. Minnesota joins states across the nation, in accordance with a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden, to honor the lives lost.

Individuals, businesses, and other organizations are encouraged to join in lowering their flags.