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Walz issues ‘stay-at-home’ order for Minnesota; extends closure of schools, bars and restaurants

Gov. Tim Walz speaking during Wednesday's live-streamed address.
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Gov. Tim Walz speaking during Wednesday's live-streamed address.

Gov. Tim Walz is telling Minnesotans to stay inside as part of the state’s response to the novel coronavirus, though he is using the term “stay at home” rather than “shelter in place” to describe the executive order he signed Wednesday.

The distinction is more than semantic. In a speech that was live-streamed throughout the state, Walz said his order is less stringent than those some other states have imposed. The purpose of the order is to further slow down infection rates for COVID-19 and give the state time to build up testing and hospital capacity, and expand the supply of medical resources.

The order will begin at 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 27, and end at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10. It asks for residents to stay home when at all possible. Exempted from the stay-at-home order are a set of essential workers in health care, law enforcement, grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations, as well as those that maintain infrastructure such as telecommunications, electricity, water and sewer. The state Department of Employment and Economic Development estimates 78 percent of state jobs will be exempt from the order.

The order also allows people to shop for food and supplies and to get outside for exercise as long as it is done in accordance with social distancing rules.

“It doesn’t mean you don’t step out of your house,” Walz said. “This does not mean that you can’t do some of the things that keep life functioning on. But it does mean that we’re getting more restrictive.” 

Walz also extended two of the executive orders he first signed shortly after his declaration of a state of emergency last week. His orders closing schools and shuttering bars, restaurants and other public gathering places will be extended at least until May 4 and May 1, respectively.

“The severe impact is going to be there,” he said. “I’m asking for your patience, your cooperation and your understanding.” 

Walz said that the state and federal governments are doing all they can to lessen the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic, including providing unemployment insurance for up to 39 weeks, child care assistance and loans for businesses.

He said the point of those programs is to let people survive the closures and be ready to return to work and activities later. “This day will come when we’re done with this,” he said. “It will come when we will stand back up. We need to make sure that all the hard work that you put in, the sacrifice allows you to start back up again and benefit from all that,” Walz said.

While DFL elected officials supported the order, the highest ranking GOP elected official was less enthusiastic. “I share the governor’s concerns about the safety and well-being of all Minnesotans,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. “I also have grave concerns about the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order, and the consequences for the families of Minnesota when their jobs and businesses that provide their livelihood are lost.”

‘A human issue … with mathematics driving it’

Walz used modeling done by the University of Minnesota to explain his decision, and to show the consequences of different responses by the government. Under a no-mitigation situation, the model projects Minnesota would reach peak epidemic in about nine weeks (late-May), with ICUs reaching capacity in early May.

Minnesotans have already reduced contact by 50 percent with social distancing measures. Under the conditions he announced today, the model projects an 80 percent reduction in person-to-person contacts. This would put off the peak of the epidemic until early July, and ICUs would reach capacity around the second week of June.

“This is a human issue with mathematics driving it,” he said. “If we just let this thing run its course and did nothing, upwards of 74,000 Minnesotans could be killed by this.” Walz said. 

While the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are most susceptible to COVID-19, Walz said the pandemic is starting to affect younger people.

“The place we cannot get to is when someone can’t get that ICU care, (and) we see the death rates skyrocket,” he said. He projected that with time, the state could grow its number of ICU beds from the current 235 to 1,000.

“Minnesota is as well prepared as any state to handle this,” Walz said, citing the health care system, medical device makers and nonprofits providing safety-net services.

“So Minnesotans, we are in this together,” he concluded. “I’m asking you to buckle it up for two more weeks here. I’m asking our manufacturers to step it up and provide for the ICU units. We’ll draw on all the resources we have and make sure we get through this together.”

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Luke Plunkett on 03/25/2020 - 05:18 pm.

    As grave as the situation is, I’m glad that MN has a budget surplus in a time like this. Drawing on community resources and relying on ourselves gives me confidence that we’ll get through this all the better.

    Stay home, stay safe

    • Submitted by Robert McManus on 03/26/2020 - 12:37 pm.

      And a markedly competent leadership running the show. I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen so far. Jan Malcom is the person for the job at the Health Dept. She’s respected by those she leads and by her peers. The others in Walz’s cabinet who I’ve seen speak also inspire confidence. Thank the lord that we have Gov. Walz and that he picked an excellent cabinet.

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/25/2020 - 06:56 pm.

    The draft dodger in the White House is like a divorced parent who plays Disneyland Daddy, doesn’t discipline the kids to be popular, and let’s the other parent take the kids to the dentist. Don Trump just wants to give up happy talk and let the governors be the killjoys.

    Or as some say, #DiefortheDow.

  3. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 03/25/2020 - 10:56 pm.

    Mr Gazelka, here is a way to protect jobs. First educate yourself so you understand that bonding in these economic straits will create more jobs than any of your tax cuts ever did. Repair roads, bridges, put in fiber optic lines in rural areas and quit worrying about breaks for big corporations who put in pipelines that provide 9-12 months of work for out of staters.

    Governor Dayton and Governor Walz Were able to save our state from the economic ruin visited upon us by Pawlenty and your party. They restored our AAA bond rating Which makes it possible for us to bond at minimal cost. Think of this is a huge economic stimulus that will provide jobs all over the state. Why don’t you worry about stuff like this instead of telling women how to spend their lives, Shafting the people who live in the cities and pay for your rural areas, Like that nice four-lane highway that goes through Nisswa and Baxter and improved your business environment for all of the lake and recreation-based industries. You guys are always trying to help big companies that are frequently owned outside of the state. Why did you do something for the people of the state for a change?

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 03/26/2020 - 11:22 am.

    I guess if a Dem uses uncheck political power it is ok but if the same was done by a GOP the responses would be multitude on MInnPost.

    “The decisions without consultation at least from the Republicans in the Senate, I think is a big deal,” Gazelka said. “He has tremendous powers that he has invoked, and I want to make sure they’re focused on COVID-19.”
    Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, is also concerned. Jensen is a physician who believes some aspects of the state response have gone too far with the governor acting alone.” NPR

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 03/26/2020 - 12:02 pm.

      “Unchecked political power”

      Well, Ron, we have to distinguish between lawful authority undertaken during an actual, objective emergency and illegal action rationalized via declaration of a phony emergency.

      For example, in the first category is Walz’s (and other governors’) actions in promulgating these “stay at home” orders in the face of an (objective) global pandemic, COVID-19. In the latter is Dear Leader’s illegal actions in converting otherwise-appropriated funds for his border wall and his non-compliance with clear asylum law, in furtherance of a baseless “emergency” revolving around helpless refugee families and children, whose crime is being Latino.

      And therein lies the difference….

      • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 03/26/2020 - 03:26 pm.

        I thought the DFL were to bring people together? Glad to hear your views about executive power.

        “But House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said it is important to raise questions about the level of executive authority.
        “Just because we’re in a pandemic and we’re in a crisis, doesn’t mean that democracy stops,” Winkler said. “We all believe in the constitution. So, I think it’s a good thing to be watching and careful about not overstepping what authority he has in a time of emergency. (MPR)”

        • Submitted by Rashelle Perry on 03/31/2020 - 07:51 pm.

          Walz is completely unreasonable. None of this has anything to do with controlling the spread of Covid-19 otherwise logic would come into play. Allowing for congregations at grocery stores and construction sites but not allowing for other businesses to operate that literally does not involve contact with other people is unreasonable. Governor Walz should be ashamed of himself and all I can say is that I hope this actually does end in April.

    • Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 03/26/2020 - 12:52 pm.

      “Consultation from Republicans in the Senate” huh Ron ? You must have forgotten the Republican defaults….God, Guns, & Taxes. Republican Senators are at a loss for constructive words on this one….it is out of their comfort zone.

  5. Submitted by Sheila Kihne on 03/26/2020 - 12:42 pm.

    Where’s the study/model that Walz cited? What evidence was it based on? Who authored it? It’s nowhere to be found, but all of the Minnesota media is regurgitating it as fact. There are a lot of models that turn out to be bogus.

    The study done in the UK by the Imperial College of London cited by the White House on March 16th is now being walked back today. This same study was on the U of M’s webpage. It predicted 2.2 million Americans would die and half of Brits. The author now says 20,000 predicted to die in the UK.
    How is it that Minnesota would have 74,000 die? It’s absurd.

    • Submitted by Greg Claflin on 03/29/2020 - 08:21 am.

      I would guess it depends on what statistical model you use based on known rates of infection and the circumstances in which they occurred. Obviously no one in this country appeared to take this seriously. Four weeks ago China had the largest number of cases of infection, two weeks ago Italy, this week the US. When you have a President calling a growing pandemic a democrat and media hoax to make him look bad, what do you expect? His advice now is for everyone to go back to work. Why, should I put my life at risk just because you want to get reelected? We don’t need happy talk and BS coming from the WH, we need actual concrete action which sadly this president has pushed off to others. Mainly the governors of the individual states to do what they can with what they have on hand. That’s pretty poor governing if ask me.

  6. Submitted by Carl Brookins on 03/29/2020 - 09:10 am.

    Newspapers and other media are partly responsible for the politicization of this pandemic. They could also be the instrument of reducing political fighting. Why is it necessary to identify every politician who speaks about covid19 by their political party? When a governor accepts or rejects a directive from Washington, her or his political label is not important. What is important is reaction, acceptance, judgment, appearance of competence or not. There are fools and excellent administrators in every part of the political spectrum. THAT’s what’s important, not their political label.

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