Walz: No return to statewide stay-at-home order

But he says they're looking into plans to focus on groups and areas where virus spread is spiking
Governor Walz at new saliva-testing center in Minneapolis
Gov. Walz at new saliva-testing center at Minneapolis Convention Center Photo credit Entercom

Minnesota’s troubling spike in new coronavirus cases is not enough for Gov. Walz to bring back a statewide stay-at-home order, but he does caution that that extreme measure could be revisited in a different form.

“That’s a pretty blunt instrument to attack COVID-19, it’s one that has incredible ramifications, it was the right tool to use early on,” said Walz at the Minneapolis Convention Center, one of 11 new saliva-testing sites opening Monday in Minnesota.

“It’s not something that I want to do, but I think it’s one of the things we’re going to have to be surgically looking at,” he said.

That means looking at events where conditions are ripe to spread the virus.

“Where are 18-35-year-olds congregating together, what are the incidents of some of this social spread happening,” Walz said. “It makes sense to us now to target those much more surgically, much more aggressively than a state-wide, stay at home order.”

Walz said state health officials have learned much about COVID-19 since the pandemic began and the peacetime emergency was declared in March.

“We’ve learned that we can do retail, we can do education, if, if we’re able to test, contain, and contact trace those folks to get it isolated,” he said. “We are prepared to take some steps.”

The governor also said he’ll have more to say about the state’s updated coronavirus response on Tuesday.

The Minneapolis Convention Center is one of new saliva-testing sites opening across the state, with testing facilities also located at 11 National Guard armories and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

All of the new sites are expected to be operational by the end of November.

“It’s certainly not so glamourous to spit into a tube, but, I’ll tell you what, doing so just might make sure that we get a little bit closer to breaking the back of this thing,” Walz said. “It might prevent your grand parents from getting this thing over Thanksgiving, keep our schools open, might keep that restaurant that’s just hanging on by a thread a little better chance to do it.”

Walz was critical of the federal response to the pandemic, and expressed hope of a new emphasis of controlling the virus from the incoming Biden administration.

That includes Monday’s naming of a 13-member national coronavirus advisory council, a panel that includes University of Minnesota infectious diseases researcher Dr. Michael Osterholm.

“This never needed to be a partisan issue, it is not magically going to go away, but we have the technology, the capacity, and the will, as other nations have been able to do, to break the back of this thing,” Walz said. “To get back to that point, and get to our lives where we want them to be.”