4-13-2020: COVID-19 Update from MN Governor Tim Walz and MDH
MN Governor Walz to Join Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 4-13-2020
Governor Tim Walz Update:
- Cautions watching national news, noting plateau in COVID-19 in New York. “It’s not just here yet in full-force,” said Walz referring to peak spread in Minnesota. “We can stop it from being as destructive,” he said.
- Will extend Peacetime Emergency in Minnesota through May 13
- Concerned about traffic fatalities which are up in Minnesota despite much lighter traffic
- Stay-at-home order meant to bide time, reduce impact on most vulnerable in Minnesota
- Expects exponential growth in COVID-19 testing, both initial and serology testing. “Not testing widely enough,” he said.
- “We’re trying strategies not being tried in other places,” said Walz on Minnesota plans for testing and restarting economy.
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans:
- Extraordinary budget projection expected in early May (Normally economic forecast done in November)
- Will implement hiring freeze at state agencies unless related to COVID-19 response
- State agencies also not permitted to use professional service contracts to circumvent hiring freeze
- Governor, his chief of staff and all 24 cabinet commissioners taking 10 percent pay cut for remainder of this year.
Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle:
- Operates Metro Transit, service level way down
- Starting today, Metro Mobility providing free door-to-door service for Tier 1 health care workers. (Excess capacity allows Metro Mobility to provide this service)
- Also using Metro Mobility to provide food shelf deliveries
Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- 1.86 million cases globally (115,000 deaths globally); 560,000 cases in U.S. (22,000 deaths in U.S., 7,000 in New York City alone)
- 1,650 confirmed cases in Minnesota; 70 deaths per updated data dashboard: MN.gov/covid19
- No additional deaths reported Monday in Minnesota
- 842 patients released from isolation in Minnesota; 157 patients currently in hospital, 74 in ICU
- Saw larger number of cases over weekend due to broader time frame
- Encourages personal care attendants and family members to assist those with disabilities to attend medical appointments. While visitors are limited, nothing can prevent caregivers from assisting, says Malcolm.
Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove:
- More than 420,000 unemployment applications since March 16. Down 18 percent last week over previous week.
- First state in country to issue $600/week additional payment through CARES Act
- Working on providing on unemployment insurance to self-employed/independent contractors
Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly:
- FEMA approved state’s request over weekend for non-congregate sheltering. Helps reduce further spread of COVID-19 disease. Will help people experiencing homelessness.
- This is Severe Weather Awareness Week, reminds Kelly. We need to be alert for weather too, noting Southeast battered by tornadoes.
- Question: Restaurant owners worried about reopening May 4, what about allowing beer/wine takeout? Answer: Walz: Totally supportive of allowing beer/wine takeout. Believes legislature should take a look at it (State legislature returns to work Tuesday). Would sign such a bill.
- Walz: Testing, contact tracing and isolating best way to reopen restaurants.
- “Minnesota is a state that follows science.” “It’s to follow best practices,” said Walz about reopening businesses.
- “Yes, we all want to open up tomorrow, but people will die if we do that,” said Walz on opposition to extending stay-at-home order.
- If you allow people going back to work too early, your economy shuts down anyway, mentioning Sioux Falls, S.D., pork plant that had to shut down due to workers contracting COVID-19
- Question: Who determines priority for antibody testing? Who will be in priority groups? Answer: Per Jan Malcolm, emphasis on critical care workers, those in congregate care settings, and dialysis patients. MN Department of Health has put out guidelines in light of limited testing.
- Time frame for anybody getting serology testing? Walz: Only 40,000 people tested so far in Minnesota. We need to be testing 40,000 a week, 5,000 a day. “This is a broken system across the country.” Less than 1 percent across the country tested. This needs to start happening in next couple of weeks.
- Don’t have testing in place or the PPE (personal protective equipment for hospital workers) to begin to start normalizing life at this time. “We cannot shelter in place for the entire time it takes to get a vaccine.”
- Question: How long to get enough testing to reopen economy? Answer: “The long-term sustainability in reopening the economy is contingent on testing and the PPE.”
- Too early to say if businesses not exempted from stay-at-home order will stay closed beyond May 4. “We’re seeing progress every day.”
- Question: Could Minnesota defy President on reopening economy? Answer: “I can only make the judgment in the best interest in the health and safety of Minnesotans.”
- Walz: reopening schools won’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with reopening businesses.
- Question: What are businesses supposed to do to reopen if not enough testing? Answer: Commissioner Grove: social distancing will help businesses slowly reopen in the workplace. “We’re collecting a lot of information on putting options into play,” said Grove. MN DEED working on guidelines
- Question: Any closer to decision on golf, also what about fishing? Answer: “If we can mitigate risk, we should people to do as much as they can,” said Walz. DNR looking at fishing. Folks up North don’t want people to flock up there to avoid increased risks.
- Governor Tim Walz gives condolences to Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns on death of his mom to COVID-19 complications.
For more stories on the novel coronavirus go to the CCX Media COVID-19 page.