Gov. Tim Walz is extending the state’s stay at home executive order to May 4.
Walz says this next round is not like "flipping a light switch." It’s a way to piece-by-piece turn on parts of the economy in a way that does not jeopardize the progress Minnesotans have made by physical distancing.
“We cannot rest easy,” Walz said.
Exemptions will be added in the coming weeks as agencies develop protocols like for landscapers, golf course maintenance workers, or owners who need to stop into their business to manage inventory. Critical workers will continue their routines and restaurants will continue to be closed for dine-in.
Walz says he does not want to follow states like Michigan or Louisiana that statistically looked optimistic, then quickly devolved.
“This thing can explode overnight if you don’t take the proper precautions,” Walz said. “I’m not saying New York didn’t take the proper precautions. The problem is, that many days back, no one knew how quickly this was going to go. No one had the social distancing in place long enough. The move to go to social distancing, the move to go early, has kept us relatively flat.”
In the decision he cites CDC data and updated modeling that shows, with the extended stay at home, a peak pushed to July.
The continued reduction of face-to-face contact by 80 percent, he says, will continue to buy time to build hospital capacity - ventilators, ICU beds and PPE - because right now, based on Minnesota’s data, there isn’t enough. A model with 95 percent certainty shows Minnesota will need at least 3,000 beds as soon as May.
He says he knows it’s difficult but takes issue with lawmakers or opponents who wanted a less cautious approach.
“I would simply say the data and the 42 states following this general direction,” Walz said. “Where we diverge from them is we think we have the capacity, because of our testing capacity and our social distancing the way it is...to smartly bring people back in without jeopardizing this.”
Minnesota officials are optimistic about the development of serological antibody tests as a way to get people back to work. In a statement Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said: "It is welcome news some businesses can open up and safely resume work.”
Walz says children going back to school in May is unlikely, but he’s not entirely shutting the door on it.
The Minnesota Department of Health reports 1,159 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus and 39 deaths as of Wedesday.