MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz has ordered Minnesota residents to stay at home for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent it from overwhelming the state's health care system.
The governor's “stay at home” order begins at midnight Friday.
He says the restrictions are critical to buy time to build up the state's capacity to handle a flood of infections.
People will still be allowed to go to grocery stores and their doctors and buy gasoline. But the governor extended his order closing bars and restaurants to May 1. Schools will implement distance learning beginning Monday.
State officials says over 11,300 coronavirus test have been conducted.
The executive order will go into effect Friday at 11:59 p.m. and goes until Friday, April 10.
"I'm asking for your patience," Walz said.
During his press conference, Walz said that 15 percent of people will be hospitalized due to a Coronavirus test with five percent needing ICU care for respiratory health.
The range of cases in Minnesota goes from 6 months to 94 years old.
Walz said that 74,000 people in Minnesota could have been killed if no action was taken.
Midwest states Wisconsin and Illinois have recently ordered residents to shelter in place.
The state's count of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 287 Wednesday, up 25 from a day earlier.
The Minnesota Department of Health said 26 people are still hospitalized as of Wednesday.
There are 21 cases in Olmsted County, six in Mower County, and three apiece in Dodge and Fillmore counties.
The Rochester City Council issued the following statement on the Governor's announcement:
"The Rochester City Council would like to thank the community for their collaborative efforts in addressing this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Walz’s “Stay at Home” executive order. These are certainly unsettling times as all of us deal with the outbreak."
"Times like these demonstrate the resiliency, courage and positive attitude of our community members and make us so proud to be part of it. Even as we work through the next days, weeks and months, we know that we will be equally challenged in terms of recovery for our community members, businesses, and workforce. Please know that the City of Rochester is doing whatever we can to manage through this current challenge and provide support going forward."
"The importance of the COVID-19 pandemic should not be minimized and many community resources are already available. In addition, the City of Rochester, along with other partners, continue to work to identify additional resources and creative solutions to best meet the needs of our community"
The City of Albert Lea also responded to the Governor's announcement:
"In the wake of Governor Walz's “Stay Home” order, the city of Albert Lea will continue its essential services policy until the order is lifted. All city buildings and facilities continue to be closed to the public including City Hall, the Albert Lea Public Library, Albert Lea Senior Center, City Arena and the Transfer Station. This closure is in effect at least through April 15, 2020."
"Please abide by and follow the Governor's guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID 19."
"During the closure, city services and operations will continue to be provided to the community through both phone and email. Many offices have made arrangements and alternative options for services. Most services can also be done online if necessary and citizens are encouraged to explore those options."
The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners issued this statement after the Governor spoke:
"With the recent announcement from Governor Walz requiring all citizens to Stay at Home, The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners reminds you that all Freeborn County buildings and facilities continue to be closed to the public including the Freeborn County Government Center, Freeborn County Human Services and the Freeborn County Highway Department. This closure is now extended until MAY 4, 2020 at 8am."
"We implore all the citizens of Freeborn County to abide by and follow the Governors guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID 19."
"Be assured, while the buildings will be closed to the public, normal county services and operations will continue to be provided to the community on the same schedule, through both phone and email. Many offices have made arrangements to provide alternative options for services. Most services can also be done online if necessary and citizens are encouraged to explore those options. A complete listing of department contacts for alternative method of services (PHONE AND EMAIL) can be found on the county webpage www.freeborn.mn.us."
"The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners workshop scheduled for March 31, 2020 is cancelled. The Freeborn County Board meeting scheduled on April 7 and April 21, 2020 will be via teleconference and televised on line at www.freeborn.co.mn.us."
You can see the full press release below:
[ST. PAUL, MN] – To slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state, Governor Tim Walz today signed Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to stay at home and limit movements outside of their home beyond essential needs. This order takes effect at 11:59pm on Friday, March 27 and ends at 5:00pm on Friday, April 10.
“We must take bold action to save the lives of Minnesotans,” said Governor Walz. “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.”
Modeling released today by the Minnesota Department of Health and University of Minnesota predicts that more than 70,000 Minnesotans could die from COVID-19 if we take no action. The Governor’s two-week order to stay home is forecasted to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow the state time to make key preparations for the pandemic. 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 most effective.
“We will work with our world-renowned health care sector, cutting-edge manufacturers, innovative business community, and strong-spirited Minnesotans across the state to tackle this virus head on,” Governor Walz continued. “These are trying times. But we are Minnesotans. We see challenges—and we tackle them. No matter how daunting the challenge; no matter how dark the times; Minnesota has always risen up—by coming together. If we unite as One Minnesota, we will save lives.”
Minnesotans may leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities, and while doing so, they should practice social distancing:
• Health and safety activities, such as obtaining emergency services or medical supplies
• Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting, or fishing
• Necessary Supplies and Services, such as getting groceries, gasoline, or carry-out
• Essential and interstate travel, such as returning to a home from outside this state
• Care of others, such as caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household
• Displacement, such as moving between emergency shelters if you are without a home
• Relocation to ensure safety, such as relocating to a different location if your home has been unsafe due to domestic violence, sanitation, or essential operations reasons
• Tribal activities and lands, such as activities by members within the boundaries of their tribal reservation
“Our top priority is the health and safety of Minnesotans,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “As the mom of a first-grader and the daughter of a parent with underlying health conditions, 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.”
“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.”
Workers who work in critical sectors during this time are exempt from the stay at home order. These exemptions are based on federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with some Minnesota-specific additions. This includes, but is not limited to, jobs in:
• Healthcare and public health;
• Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders;
• Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, drop-in centers;
• Child care;
• Food and agriculture;
• News media;
• Water and wastewater; and
• Critical manufacturing.
The Governor also today issued executive orders extending the closure of bars, restaurants, and other public accommodations set forth in Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08 until May 1, 2020 at 5:00 pm and authorizing the Commissioner of Education to implement a Distance Learning Period for Minnesota’s students beginning on March 30 through May 4, 2020.
The Governor’s Executive Orders will have the full force and effect of law upon approval by the Executive Council.
Answers, symptoms and prevention | Closings around southern Minnesota, northern Iowa | For complete Coronavirus coverage, click here | Iowa Department of Health info | Minnesota Department of Health info | Daily timeline of cases in Minnesota, Iowa