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Why Walz hasn’t yet ordered Minnesotans to ‘shelter in place’

Plus: Trump extends REAL ID deadline; crowds at Minneapolis parks struggle with social distancing; significant warmup in the forecast for Minnesota; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Gov. Tim Walz
The Pioneer Press’ Dave Orrick writes: “As a cascade of other Midwestern states fell under orders to shelter in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz held back Monday. Why? He’s waiting on computer models that will project how COVID-19 illnesses might spread in Minnesota — and, crucially, how a shelter in place order might affect that spread and ultimately the ability of the state’s hospitals to save lives, he said Monday.

In the Star Tribune, Briana Bierschbach writes,What is a “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” order? They are an extreme form of social distancing, ordering people to stay inside their home and away from gatherings of any kind except for essential needs and services. But so far, in other states where these orders have been issued, that hasn’t meant a total lockdown.The orders vary from state-to-state, but typically, people are still allowed to leave the house for things like groceries, medical needs and other supplies.”

Also in the Pioneer Press: “With the COVID-19 pandemic further stifling the efforts of states to issue Real ID driver’s licenses, President Donald Trump on Monday said he would extend the Oct. 1 deadline for people to have the identification cards to board domestic flights in the United States. Trump made the announcement during a news briefing on the nation’s response to the virus, as the number of confirmed cases across the U.S. now stands at more than 33,000. … Trump has been under pressure to postpone the Oct. 1 deadline from state officials across the country.”

For Patch, William Bornhoft says, “Hy-Vee stores are adding new policies in play as the grocery continues to respond to the spread of the new coronavirus. As of March 20, customers are no longer allowed to bring in their own reusable bags. The company says it is difficult to monitor the cleanliness of bags brought from home. The stores are also adding temporary window panels at checkouts which aim to to protect both employees and customers. Hy-Vee locations have also begun reserving one hour of shopping time — 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every day — for ‘high-risk’ customers.”

The Star Tribune’s Miguel Otarola writes, “So many people are rushing into Minneapolis’ most popular parks during the coronavirus pandemic that it’s hard for them to give everyone their recommended six-foot separation. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is now urging people to visit smaller neighborhood parks instead, and will potentially take other measures to keep people spread apart.”

At City Pages, Mike Mullen reports, “Kim Bartmann had decided to temporarily close her restaurants even before Gov. Tim Walz announced a mandatory halt to food service outside pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery.  On Thursday, the news for Bartmann’s employees got worse. Not only were they out of work, but they weren’t getting paid for the previous week. In an email, Bartmann blamed a ‘sudden, steep drop’ in sales the previous weekend, as people increasingly stayed home to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).”

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At Axios, Bob Herman reports, “ ‘A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate,’ one of the anti-malaria drugs that President Trump has mentioned in recent days, according to Banner Health, the hospital system that treated both patients. Why it matters: People who self-medicate risk serious side effects or death, and it’s why any messaging about chloroquine and the related hydroxychloroquine should emphasize that these drugs have not been approved to prevent or treat the new coronavirus.”

At MPR, Nina Moini reports, “Minnesotans are still trying to get back after some countries temporarily suspended air travel because of coronavirus concerns. Jennifer Schmaedeke has booked eight separate plane tickets over the past several days hoping to get her daughter home from a study abroad trip to Morocco. … The Department of State says U.S. citizens are not required to register their presence abroad, and the government doesn’t keep comprehensive lists of U.S. citizens traveling or residing overseas. It’s difficult to know how many Minnesotans are in the same position.”

Also at MPR, Paul Huttner says, “File this one under wishful thinking for many Minnesotans. The major forecast models agree on what looks like a significant warmup for Minnesota next week. And as if medium-range forecasts don’t present enough uncertainty, this warmup appears to peak around April 1. How lovely. … If this pattern verifies, we can expect a string of days well into the 50s and 60s next week. A few models even hint at temperatures in the 70s for parts of Minnesota next week.”