Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday asked Minnesotans to “shelter in place” for two weeks. This will achieve key public health goals to treat those who get sick and make sure a wave of sickness doesn’t overwhelm hospital capacity.
The plan was developed by infectious disease researchers and experts in health modeling at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health. Minnesotans should be confident that the best and brightest minds came up with a plan that offers the best chance for mitigating the devastating effects of this pandemic.
Without this order, research modeling shows intensive care units could quickly be overwhelmed and many hundreds or thousands of people could die. Walz called that unacceptable and therefore called for a two week shelter-in-place for all non-essential workers.
There is an extensive list of businesses and workers to whom the order does not apply, including the news media, health care workers, law enforcement, child care providers and food and agriculture workers.
It also does not restrict people from socializing outdoors while adhering to social distance rules. People also can go to doctor appointments, the grocery store, the liquor store and other selected places.
The plan, Walz said, will slow the spread of coronavirus and buy time for the state to ready hospitals and other health services to treat a growing number of cases. It will also allow time to get protective equipment for health care workers and things like ventilators for hospitals.
The closing of bars, restaurants and places of public accommodation will also be extended to May 1. Schools are to be closed for another two weeks also, but distance learning is expected to begin Monday. Schools are scheduled to re-open, if all goes well, May 4.
Walz noted the situation may change depending on what the data shows in terms of cases going up and down and the severity of those cases. It is estimated some 2 million Minnesotans will get or have had the virus, but 85 percent of those cases require only staying at home.
It’s troubling that GOP Sen. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka issued a statement saying he had “grave concerns” about the governor’s statewide order and the consequences for Minnesota families when their “jobs or businesses are lost.”
Stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus should not be a partisan issue. Gazelka’s statement only serves to create more fear and discord and gives some a reason to reject public health safety procedures. That would be unfortunate, as the data shows that will put more Minnesotans at risk of dying.
And given the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package coming out of Washington, D.C., many workers and business not before covered by such plans will be covered and in some cases made whole.
The state plan was developed by experts at the University of Minnesota and is embraced by Minnesota’s leading companies, like 3M and Medtronic who will be helping fill equipment needs. The Minnesota Hospital Association supports the plan for its hospital readiness strategy.
Walz and his team of experts and dedicated public servants have put forward a plan that is based on research but also balances the need for people to live their lives safely and as best they can and keep a safety net under our economy.
We encourage all Minnesotans to adhere to the new shelter in place plan. We should all help keep our fellow Minnesotans safe and healthy.