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Walz to Minnesotans: Staying at home ‘is our only vaccine’

Walz 2020 State of the State
Gov. Tim Walz delivering his 2020 State of the State Address from the Governor's Residence on Summit Avenue in St. Paul.

Gov. Tim Walz used a seasonal analogy Sunday night to explain the challenge facing the state and its residents from COVID-19 — one Minnesotans are well familiar with.

The best way to get through a hard winter is to prepare, Walz said in his second state of the state speech since being elected, this one given not from the Minnesota House Chambers but from his residence, where he has been in quarantine for two weeks.

“Right at the time Minnesotans are usually putting away their shovels and snowblowers, opening up their windows, and emerging from their homes, we’re bracing for a storm of epic proportions,” Walz said. “We are used to long winters in Minnesota. We are resilient people with a deep reserve of courage, optimism, and grit. But this will be like a winter we’ve never seen before.”

So preparations will be more intense as well, he said, and will include increasing hospital capacity and testing for the coronavirus, as well as adding ventilators and intensive care unit beds to treat those who get COVID-19.

“And just as we wouldn’t send a loved one out into the cold without the protection they need, we are doing our best to find more personal protective equipment for the selfless doctors, nurses, first responders, and so many others on the frontlines against COVID-19,” he said. “But Minnesotans won’t just prepare for COVID-19, we will lead the fight.”

Walz began his 12-minute speech by setting a dire scene for a state that has changed dramatically and unpredictably in less than a month.

“Many of you are out of work,” he said. “Businesses large and small are shuttered across the state. The companionship we normally lean on to get through difficult times — a hug from a grandparent, a cup of coffee with a friend, or just laughing with a co-worker — are now  out of reach. Vacant streets. Deserted classrooms. Empty pews. Chairs stacked on restaurant tables. Graduations, weddings, and funerals postponed.”

Walz also noted the disconnect between the types of things many in the state do routinely to help out in a winter storm, from shoveling neighbor’s sidewalks to pushing a stranger’s car out of the snow, they can’t do now, restricted as they are by the overriding order to stay home and to stay away from people. 

And while the Mayo Clinic is building testing capacity and treatments, 3M is speeding manufacturing of needed masks, Medtronic is sharing designs for ventilators, hospitals and health care workers are working overtime in dangerous conditions, most Minnesotans are asked to do less than they normally do. 

Yet staying home, he said, “is our only vaccine.”

“And you — staying home — are doing some of the most critical work of all,” he said of those following his stay-at-home order. “I know it doesn’t feel that way for many of you. Minnesotans are hardworking people who step in to help. In many storms, that means plowing out your neighborhood, filling sandbags, or trudging through the snow to check on your loved ones. 

“Now that means staying home. What you are doing isn’t paralysis — it’s action.” 

Walz also had special words for students and their parents who are worried about their finances and trying to keep their kids’ education on track. “This is hard for everyone,” he said. “Take a deep breath. Be kind to yourself. We are all doing the best we can — and that’s all we can do.”

The address was more fireside chat than typical state of the state speech. Walz didn’t speak of legislative requests or issues he wanted addressed. He also made no news about the response to the crisis, such as an extension of existing closure orders or emergency requests of lawmakers. Instead, he attempted both to warn the state of troubles ahead and pat it on the back — virtually, of course — to reassure its citizens.

And rather than recognize Minnesotans strategically seated in the House gallery — a staple of such speeches in normal times — Walz singled out people by reference. A Pee Wee Hockey team that gathered supplies for a hockey mom who is also a nurse; the state trooper who gave his own N-95 masks to a doctor after stopping her for speeding; the grandkids of a Veteran’s Home resident who made chalk art on the sidewalk to cheer him and buck up the staff; the downtown Minneapolis residents who go on their balconies each day at 7 p.m. to applaud for health care workers.

“While we might be separated physically, we stand united. From Rondo to the Range, from North Minneapolis to North Mankato, we are One Minnesota,” Walz said “And a new day will come. The sun will shine. The trees will bud. The birds will sing. 

“Spring will arrive. And when it does, we will dig out Minnesota. We will do whatever it takes to support Minnesotans and businesses to get back on their feet,” he said. “We will value those we overlooked before. When times got tough, who did we lean on? It was the nurse. The grocer. The truck driver. The farmer. The janitor. We will recognize all that educators and child care providers do for our students, our communities and our economy.”

The unusual format for the speech Sunday led Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to take a different tack for his response, a tradition of sorts that rarely sees legislative leaders veer far from partisan talking points. The Nisswa-area Republican gave his response before the speech via a Facebook video.

Whatever plans Walz outlined, “we’ll try our best to rally around it,” Gazelka said. “I am walking hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm with the governor, with the House, with the Senate. We want the governor to be successful. We want the president to be successful. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Republicans or Democrats, they have to succeed.”

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt echoed Gazelka’s promise to work with Walz in responding to the crisis. “I think the governor really is trying to inspire Minnesotans and let them know that we will get through this,” said Daudt, a Republican from Crown. “I would agree with him that we want to present a united front. Republicans join Democrats in wanting to defeat COVID-19 but also make sure Minnesotans are back to normal as quickly as possible while still remaining safe. I think the governor took the right tone.”

Walz did retain one tradition of these annual addresses. Even though the state and nation are going through a historical trial, Walz refrained from saying that the condition of the state of Minnesota wasn’t positive.

“The State of our State is strong,” he said. “The State of our State is resilient. The State of our State is united. And our hearts are filled with gratitude for each and every Minnesotan and the role they play in the fight against COVID-19.” 

Comments (36)

  1. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 04/05/2020 - 09:14 pm.

    Elections have consequences. Minnesota is fortunate that the consequence of the gubernatorial race was a man who is willing to lead with the values of our state as a guide and the health and safety of all Minnesotans as a goal.

  2. Submitted by Richard Steuland on 04/06/2020 - 08:15 am.

    I am very grateful that we have such a compassionate ,thoughtful and wise Governor. Look at the national level we see incompetence, Abrasiveness, misinformation, bullying, veiled threats and a callous disregard. Trump is so ignorant that he thinks he is suddenly an expert on what medications stop this virus. One thing is certain Trump and nearly every Republican are mum towards a hurting populous. He should have been impeached and sent packing.Thanks Senators! Not

    • Submitted by Janet Johnson on 04/08/2020 - 11:41 am.

      Tell that to all the cancer victims that have been called “Non Essential” are now fearfully waiting for some treatment… Maybe the virus wont kill them, but waiting for there surgeries may.. Look outside the box instead of listening to all the BS..

      • Submitted by ian wade on 04/09/2020 - 03:33 pm.

        Who’s calling cancer patients”non essential?” I have two friends that are undergoing treatment right now and have had no issues.receiving care.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/11/2020 - 06:30 pm.

        And I had no trouble scheduling surgery for a broken arm. Your mileage may vary depending on the medical facilities in your area.

  3. Submitted by BK Anderson on 04/06/2020 - 09:15 am.

    We’ll see how “united” our MN Repubs are with Walz when the Grand Incompetent in Washington (prematurely) blares the “All Clear!” siren, as he is obviously dying to do, no matter how many more may die as a result. That’s going to be their “wedge” issue.

    “Conservatives” nationwide are far more united with Trump than reality.

  4. Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 04/06/2020 - 09:40 am.

    The “State of the State” address given by Governor Walz is a prime example of what it looks like to see real leadership by a caring, moral man who has done his homework, and is more concerned about the well-being o his constituents than his own profits.

  5. Submitted by Mike Chrun on 04/06/2020 - 11:29 am.

    It’s interesting how many of the governors have stepped up and filled the leadership vacancy caused by the ego maniac in charge of the national response. Confrontation, division, chaos, narcissism, and pettiness might get you elected or your own reality TV show, but it really doesn’t serve the nation well in a pandemic. The shortages in equipment and testing this far into the crises are appalling. Only three weeks ago did the federal government start purchasing needed equipment and supplies in mass. And these governors have to compete against each other and their own federal government to get their hands on this stuff. When we need cooperation and everyone pulling together, Trump is simply unable to provide the leadership to make it happen. Oh, he gives a half-hearted effort as he struggles to read what has been written for him in that flat voice devoid of any feeling or empathy. But the minute he goes off script, his true nature is soon revealed. So happy our state has an actual adult and true leader in charge.

  6. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 04/06/2020 - 12:05 pm.

    How disgusting that such an uplifting article and speech by our Governor immediately is met by an anti-Trump tirade by the other commentators to this article. Can’t we just give it a rest for a day so we can appreciate the Governor’s uplifting message without adding this downer postscript?

    • Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 04/06/2020 - 02:17 pm.

      Yes Mike… would be good for people to do as you say. I’m sure that you must realize that the continuous day after day tweets, lies, bizarre comments, and conjecturing by subject Trump serves to fuel the comebacks by the very people who would like to give it a rest but cannot stomach what they hear and see from Trump….knowing that his is and will continue to be garbage talk, that what must be refuted in the sense of sanity.

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 04/06/2020 - 02:45 pm.

      I would love for Trump to be more effective in addressing this extraordinary crisis.

      But there’s little evidence he’s capable of understanding scientific concepts, or making decisions in the best interests of the country and not his re-election. His ridiculous America First bluster (in the context of the WHO and its own tests) may have cost thousands of lives already, and more to come, as testing equipment was delayed.

      We have an emergency on our hands and it’s entirely possible if not likely that more Trumpian blunders will endanger and result in more needless loss of life. He’s entirely unqualified for this historical moment. His incompetence is abysmal and morally atrocious.

      There’s no point at which we shouldn’t be criticizing, analyzing and trying to determine what’s working and what’s not, and who is helping and who is making things worse. We’re always under an obligation to think, discern and judge.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 04/06/2020 - 03:11 pm.

      No, Mike. We can’t. I know that you folks are desperate to normalize his abhorrent behavior and gross incompetence, but I, for one, will never stop illuminating what an absolute embarrassment he’s been to this country and our ideals. An aberration like this can never happen again.

      • Submitted by Mike Schumann on 04/07/2020 - 10:40 am.

        Everybody already knows what Trump’s character is like. Further “illumination” does not help. What it does is makes people so tired of the “illuminators” that they may well vote for Trump again in November as a protest against the endless negativism and partisanship coming from the never Trumpers. Personally, I am just as tired of all of this negativism as I am of Trump.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/07/2020 - 01:13 pm.

          “What it does is makes people so tired of the “illuminators” that they may well vote for Trump again in November as a protest against the endless negativism and partisanship coming from the never Trumpers.”

          Let me see if I follow the logic here: the American people generally disapprove of President Trump. However, hearing about what a terrible President he is, and how he is a generally reprehensible person, will upset them even more. They will vote for a President they don’t like, because they don’t like hearing that they are correct to disapprove of him.

          Sure, that will happen.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/07/2020 - 10:36 am.

      No, its Donald Trump that is disgusting. His incompetence has and will kill people. It should be highlighted at every turn.

  7. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 04/06/2020 - 01:05 pm.

    I thought Walz did a great job, and I’m happy to see that Republican leaders are willing to put aside differences and pull together for a while. While this is a new and confusing situation and nobody can see the future, at least I feel fairly confident that our state government as a whole is working on our behalf right now.

  8. Submitted by joe smith on 04/06/2020 - 01:16 pm.

    At a certain point you have to get back to work and normal life, that is when we will see leadership. Telling people to stay indoors is not leadership, it is being protective. The real test is coming.

    • Submitted by Mike Chrun on 04/06/2020 - 03:21 pm.

      Waltz did a nice job laying out reasons for staying home. He is communicating clearly what has happened, is happening, and what is going to happen. He has coordinated the effort of different agencies so they are working together. He is relying on science and the best facts available. He is listening to medical experts. He has had enough foresight to realize there are going to be state budget problems and is planning for it. I’d say he’s doing a damn fine job of being a leader and will continue to do so.

      Much better than your great leader telling lies because he was primarily worried about the stock market. How is that market working for you, by the way, since you haven’t brought it up lately.

      As for the other matter, many of us will give our despising Trump a rest when he gives it a rest. You know, starts being President of all of us instead of just his cult.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 04/06/2020 - 03:31 pm.

      Exhorting people to do what they don’t want to do–like shut down businesses, beaches and schools and stay inside–IS leadership. Standing behind and Implementing serious national sacrifice based on scientific expertise IS leadership.

      Conversely, telling people what they desperately want to hear when there’s no basis for your statement ISN’T “leadership”. Telling people there’s no looming public health problem (when the CIA is telling you there’s a huge one coming), vacillating your message on a daily basis and then constantly floating vague intimations of an All Clear date when no scientist remotely agrees with you is pandering and deception–which hardly qualifies as “leadership”.

      Bonus question: telling people that global warming is a “hoax” is also not leadership, Joe. Don’t forget that one as you contemplate your strange view of (Repub) leadership!

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/06/2020 - 03:33 pm.

      Sometimes, leadership is protective.

      Leadership is not rushing head first into danger just to show how courageous you are.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 04/06/2020 - 05:10 pm.

        At some point you have to come out from your protective cocoon and join the real world of building businesses, employing people, manufacturing goods, shipping goods, growing produce. All of those things takes skill. It takes no skill to shut down a beach.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/07/2020 - 08:44 am.

          At some point, yes, but we’re not there yet.

          At some point, you have to come to grips with the fact that a DFL elected official might be doing something right.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/07/2020 - 10:39 am.

          But if you do it too soon, it will backfire on the economy. That is the danger of having a president who was an utter failure at business in normal times. Its a really bad idea to have a game show host running the country during a pandemic.

  9. Submitted by Tom Wilson on 04/06/2020 - 02:30 pm.

    The big worry is the premature ” getting back to normal” push. Hopefully, we can gradually add a few folks to the labor force, and not rush willy nilly into a covid cloud at the ballgame or concert!

  10. Submitted by ian wade on 04/06/2020 - 03:06 pm.

    I shudder to think of what kind of situation we would be in if Jeff Johnson were Governor. Thank God for Tim Walz.

  11. Submitted by Barry Peterson on 04/06/2020 - 05:36 pm.

    I am happy that GOvernor Walz spoke as he did about the history, current existence, and short-term future of the virus and our State’s response to it.

    Unlike other liberals, however, I am communicating with the White House, even if my notes are not read by the President, in a respectful manner.

    I start my note with an “RE:” statement. Then, I write:

    “Respectfully, President Trump,”

    and then provide, in a respectful tone, what I hope he will accomplish after reading my note. I have written to him about making barbers and hair-stylists essential employees (who should wear masks while working), about Acting Secretary of the Navy Mobly’s bizarre rants and my desire to have the individual stand down in light of his caustic comments about Captain Cozier of the aircraft carrier who wrote to upper echelon about the virus on his ship, and about the need to process guest worker visas for foreign farm workers with greater investment into that process as crops will be lost.

    While I agree that the President is cavalier and over his head when he starts giving medical advice, I don’t see the point in making it worse on him in terms of communicating with and about him in a caustic manner; this only side-tracks him from doing his job. While I agree that it is healthy, in a democracy, to criticize leaders, as Mr. Trump well deserves at times, it can be counterproductive when communicating with him and his office.

    That said, I want to re-focus on Governor Walz’s response to the virus, by listening to his advisers and doing his homework on the issues before hmi. He, in my opinion, is doing a fine job.

    I hope the state will make available small grants of $10K to $25K for small business to get a start which have not been earlier effected by the virus. I am trying to start an online business and need funding for an educational consultant, for incorporating, and for purchase of supplies and advertising. The online community is waiting for more people to join as vendors, and I hope to be part of that community.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/07/2020 - 04:05 pm.

      “While I agree that the President is cavalier and over his head when he starts giving medical advice, I don’t see the point in making it worse on him in terms of communicating with and about him in a caustic manner; this only side-tracks him from doing his job.”

      Trump is in over his head when he tries to order lunch from a two-page menu. As far as side-tracking him from doing his job, given how little he works and how little he seems to care about doing his job, that’s already been taken care of.

      There is no level of disagreement that Trump will tolerate. He expects, and demands, unflinching and unquestioning loyalty. A respectful letter disagreeing with him is still going to provoke his wrath.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 04/08/2020 - 09:38 am.

      I cannot think of anything more futile than “communicating with [Trump] and his office”, unless you are merely telling him how wonderful he is. He seeks only praise from the peasants.

      He represents his reactionary base and America’s plutocrats. That’s all he (and his “office”) sees.

  12. Submitted by Susan Peterson on 04/06/2020 - 06:08 pm.

    My gosh, Tim Walz has managed a miracle: getting Democrats and Republicans to work together for the benefit of the people — ALL the people, not just the members of their own party. No name calling, no blaming others, no threatening the opposition, no pointless blustering. Just calm, clear, science-based common sense and the knowledge that grownups are in charge. Thank you, Governor, and thank you to the wise Minnesotans who elected him.

  13. Submitted by Betsy Larey on 04/06/2020 - 07:11 pm.

    I wish people understood there is no reason to close golf courses. There is no easier sport in the world to distance from playing partners than golf. Also, as of now they may not even do basic maintenance on a course. But of course Minnpost would not bring this up. A 2.3 billion dollar industry statewide, that may fail if owners are not allowed to get out there and take care of the greens. Walz keeps saying he’s looking at it. He’s been looking for 3 weeks. Open your eyes now Tim!

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/07/2020 - 08:45 am.

      I think that, in the scheme of things, golf is way down on the list of priorities.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/07/2020 - 10:46 am.

      I’m gonna give Betsy this one. Golf is a sport that inherently involves social distancing. If you can have people pay for their rounds online and close the clubhouses, the risk is nil. Even less so for letting the groundskeepers mow the course.

      I realize golf may seem trivial, but as this drags on through the summer – as I expect it will – we can refine the broad rules to open up low-risk activities. Get a few people back to work.

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 04/07/2020 - 12:14 pm.

      A different approach might be to use this opportunity to let as many golf courses as possible go to seed. A policy of benign neglect would benefit almost everyone. Trees, plants and wildlife would return, along with social opportunities displaced by the wasted space of golf courses.

      Replacing golf courses with nature preserves and public parks would open up more opportunities for contact with nature, for exercise and socialization. Around a fascinating hole in the ground where people dressed in ugly pants used to congregate, we could imagine an outdoor stage for music, theater and other cultural activities. “People talking, really smiling… A man selling ice cream…” adds more color and value to community life than two men discussing finance ever could in the future history of the cosmos.

      Communities blighted by golf’s endless thirst for space might be revitalized. The exclusivity and blandness of the putting hole country club would be replaced by the inclusivity and creativity of the public park. Guitar balladeers would replace the business casual strollers, and local fashion sense along with human diversity would see an overall uptick.

      We have around 16,000 of these golf courses in the US right now:


      To me that’s about 15,750 too many.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 04/07/2020 - 12:28 pm.

      My goodness, are you the executive director of some golf association? Or just a vocal devotee of the game?

      The reason for closure is not that social distancing can’t be accomplished during a round, although I actually doubt the average foursome will do so (especially one made up of retired covid-contrarians.) The reason is the shared instrumentalites (flag sticks, ball washers and electric carts) which can’t easily be kept “clean”, as well as communal club houses, food services and rest rooms.

      As for those virtually obligatory carts (almost no one walks the course anymore, indeed many “golfers” can’t), are you each going to have your own little cart? Obviously sitting next to someone in a cart for 18 holes is not following social distancing guidelines.

      Anyway, don’t keep maintaining there is “no reason” to close the courses. Of course there is. Whether the risk is overwhelming enough to keep them closed is another matter. I’m going to guess that because enough well-off people are upset about not being able to hit the links as a way to wile away the long hours, Walz will decide it’s a battle not worth fighting. Certainly Joe Smith will see this as actual “leadership”, ha-ha.

      Whatever the decision, the owners of courses should certainly be permitted to do necessary maintenance to protect the investment. If lawn services can keep operating, then greens-keeping crews should be allowed out.

      • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 04/10/2020 - 11:13 am.

        This isn’t rocket science. It’s golf.

        *One person per cart (cart disinfected after every use)
        *Flag pins may not be removed from the hole (the rules allow this now)
        *Clubhouse need not be open (online payments and check-ins)
        *Cover the ball washers with “out of order” signs

        Problem solved.

  14. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 04/10/2020 - 05:26 pm.

    Anyone looking to see how much everyone is staying at home merely has to visit a Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Menards parking lot on Saturday and witness the items being purchased.

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