BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Friday marked the end of an era in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic statewide, as the Minnesota Department of Health officially closed its Mall of America vaccination site.
The move comes as MDH moves to shut down testing sites and vaccination centers operated by the state.
The MOA site opened in February of 2021. Since then, MDH workers have given out more than 263,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine – roughly 1 in 50 doses in Minnesota have come at this site.
The site’s busiest day came almost exactly a year to the day of its closing – Dec. 29, 2021, when 2,369 people were vaccinated.
This mirrors the peak of COVID-19 wastewater date in Minnesota. Updated numbers released Friday show while the total viral RNA load was up slightly in the past week, numbers are down significantly from a peak in January of 2022.
“There’s so much to celebrate about what we’ve done together as a state,” said outgoing MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm as she addressed reporters on her final day. “This has been so difficult, but also such a great privilege to work with such a great people and serve the state at this time.”
Malcom told media members the state plans to rely on private vaccination clinics and testing sites in case of future surges.
MDH will officially end its lease at the mall on January 15.
Still, public officials indicate they’re still watching COVID-19 trends with a watchful eye.
“This is not over,” Governor Tim Walz said Friday. “[The virus has] moved to a more endemic state, but I think for many of us, we’re watching with a very concerned eye to what’s happening in China, as China released their restrictions.”
Earlier this week, the United States joined several countries in requiring screening for passengers incoming from China.
For those getting their booster at the mall Friday, it marked a well-welcomed end of an era.
“It’s a sad, but it’s also nice that we are at the point of the pandemic that we can shut it down,” said Lou Riebe of Minneapolis.