Gov. Tim Walz has issued an executive order on Wednesday, March 25 to Minnesotans for a two-week shelter-in-place effective Friday, March 27 from 11:59 p.m. to Friday, April 10 to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
“We must take bold action to save the lives of Minnesotans,” Walz said. “Having served as a Command Sergeant Major in the Army National Guard, I know the importance of having a plan. While the virus will still be here when this order ends, this action will slow the spread of COVID-19 and give Minnesota time to ready for battle.”
Minnesotans are allowed to leave their homes only to perform any of the following activities: health and safety activities such as obtaining emergency services or supplies, outdoor activities such as walking of fishing, obtaining necessary supplies and services such as groceries or gasoline, essential and interstate travel, care of others, displacement, relocation to ensure safety and tribal activities.
Walz encouraged Minnesotans to practice social distancing while performing those essential activities.
“Our top priority is the health and safety of Minnesotans,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said. “I know that the coming weeks will be difficult for many Minnesota families, but social distancing is the most important action we can take as a community to limit the spread of COVID-19 and care for each other.”
Workers who provide critical services to Minnesotans at this time our exempt. Those jobs include healthcare and public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders, child care, food and agriculture, news media, energy, water and wastewater, and critical manufacturing.
Walz announced that the closure of bars, restaurants and other public establishments has been extended to Friday, May 1. He additionally authorized the Commissioner of Education to implement a distance learning period beginning Monday, March 30 until Monday, May 4.
So far these shelter-in-place orders in the U.S. don’t come with strict enforcement. The order in Minnesota is expected to send a strong message of the importance of compliance in order to slow down the speech without imposing harsh penalties.
The majority of cases, about 80 percent, are mild but 15 percent require hospitalization and 5 percent require intensive care for respiratory health.
Modeling was released today by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota predicts that more than 70,000 Minnesotans could die from COVID-19 if no mitigation action is taken. This new data pushed Walz to act on implementing a sheltering executive order after being hesitant the day before.
“Public health and health care workers around the state are working incredibly hard to protect Minnesotans from this outbreak, and we need all Minnesotans to do their part to slow the spread,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “These new measures will buy us much-needed time to secure additional resources and line up additional protections for our most vulnerable Minnesotans.”
The state expects the coronavirus to spread, however, the goal of this two-week order is to slow down the spread of the virus in order to provide time for the state to prepare. These preparations include building hospital capacity, increasing access to life-saving equipment like ventilators, increasing testing, planning for how to care for vulnerable populations and assessing public health data to determine which community mitigation strategies are effective, a document states.
As of March 24, Minnesota has 287 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 35 hospitalizations. The state further expects that with increased testing capacity will demonstrate that the virus is circulating in communities across Minnesota that have not yet identified a confirmed case.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented danger to our state,” Walz said. “By staying at home, we will limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities while we build out the capacity of our communities.”