Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that he might have to follow California’s lead at some point and order residents to shelter in place to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 as the number of confirmed cases in the state rose above 100.
“I certainly think it is a possibility,” Walz said in an interview on WCCO Radio on Friday morning, adding that outside experts and state officials were working to determine what steps for “mitigation and suppression” the state needs. “We have to have every tool in the toolbox.”
The state’s total of confirmed cases jumped to 115 on Friday, up 26 from 89 on Thursday, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
But the confirmed cases figure just represents “the tip of the iceberg” because not everyone who gets sick can be tested due to restrictions the state imposed earlier this week to cope with the national shortage of testing supplies, Kris Ehresmann, the department’s infectious disease director, said Thursday. The real total is likely much higher and the disease is probably spreading throughout the state, she said.
Walz was scheduled to participate in the department’s daily briefing for reporters Friday afternoon. Ahead of that event, he signed three executive orders, including one aimed at combating price gouging on essential goods. Minnesotans can report price gouging by calling 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787 or via the website of the attorney general, who will enforce the order. The other executive orders give the state Department of Human Services authority to to waive state requirements and seek waivers from federal requirements for a range of programs to provide more flexibility for responding to the pandemic.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Walz said legislative leaders have been “fantastic” about keeping in close communications with his office while they’re on hiatus due to the outbreak. They’re seeing the data he sees “almost in real time” and he’s listening to their guidance, he said.
“This is our new normal, at least for the coming weeks and potentially months, and we need to make sure that the Legislature’s voice is being heard, that people’s democracy is still functioning,” he said.
The governor thanked Minnesotans for their patience, kindness and perseverance.
“I recognize that this has been an incredibly hard week,” he said. “This has probably been one of the most confusing and disruptive weeks that many Minnesotans have ever seen.”
Source: Associated Press – STEVE KARNOWSKI