COVID-19 Update from Minnesota Governor and the MN Department of Health 3-26-2020
COVID-19 Update from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health 3-26-2020
Governor Tim Walz joined officials from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and other state agencies Thursday afternoon, March 26, to provide an update on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19
Update from Gov. Walz:
- We’ve had our second death to COVID-19, someone from Ramsey County
- 346 positive cases in Minnesota, with 44 of those hospitalized and 18 in intensive care units. The age range is from 5 months to 104 years old.
- We’re looking for Minnesotans to voluntarily stay home to help slow the transmission of COVID-19.
- The legislature is meeting today, and it’s important to note that these are citizen legislators. They have other jobs and families.
- The legislature is working on a package of initiatives to help Minnesotan be prepared and ease the pain of the economic squeeze that happens to families and will put resources in the places they need to be.
- We proposed a $356 million package to fight the outbreak. Our proposal creates a COVID-19 emergency fund that’ll keep our state operating during this pandemic. There’s help in here for businesses across the state, securing private funding, awarding grants to licensed family and center-based childcare providers. This is a really critical one to keeping childcare up, running and safe; to make sure that our health care and emergency frontline workers have childcare. Ensures a continuation of the food supply. And the need for local governments, tribal governments, nonprofit partners… and I have to say the decency of Minnesotans was reflected in the legislators’ working on this proposal with us, for those folks that are experiencing homelessness, to mitigate their pain in this, I’m really grateful for that.
- We’re urging the legislature to get this done today. It looks like they’re moving right along.
- There’s a lot of talk and collaboration going on amongst the governors right now
- I still want to ask Minnesotans to be thoughtful and attentive to our Asian and Pacific Islander citizens. We’re getting more calls of discrimination and hate speech. That community is integral as any one of us to Minnesota. We can’t tolerate discrimination of our neighbors. If you become a victim of hate crime because of all this, contact someone. This is not who we are.
- Regarding the stay at home order, nobody is going to be arrested or asked for their papers. If we don’t have one cohesive policy, it becomes much more challenging. If you leave home, be sure to social distance. Fresh air is a good thing. You’re encouraged to go outside but stay as close to home as possible.
- How often should you purchase food and supplies? Individual families should use their judgment. Please don’t hoard. We want to make sure there’s not a supply chain breakdown.
- You can leave your home to receive health care. But please call ahead to your provider.
- What workers are exempt from the stay at home order? It’s based on federal guidance. Please refer to our website for a list
- How will this be enforced? All Minnesotans are being asked to voluntarily comply.
- There will be a point when COVID-19 reaches all 87 counties. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen at the same time.
Update from Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, we’ve passed 500,000 cases and 22,000 deaths.
- In the U.S., we have more than 70,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.
- We just experienced the second death in Minnesota, and we want to express our sorrow about this. It strikes close to home and close to our hearts.
- The numbers today indicate the largest one-day spike in Minnesota. More deaths are expected in the days to come.
- The communities up north don’t have the same capacity to handle the large health care cases. Just be mindful that we don’t want to overload those small rural communities.
- All hands on deck work with the long-term care facilities to make sure that we’re responding quickly to those situations.
Update from Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly:
- It’s critical that we protect our health care system from the demands of this outbreak.
- We need to keep those critical care services in house, in the hospital, where patients can be cared for by hospital staff.
- Hospitals are working hard to convert freed-up space from regular use (with the suspension of elective surgeries)
- Temporary facilities are where non-critical patients will be cared for (i.e. a broken arm).
- We are focused on finding space — dorms, hotels, large public venues like sports arenas and convention centers.
- Within a couple days, we’ll have identified properties around the state that are good candidate sites. We’re working through that as fast as we can. We need to take full advantage of the time the this stay at home order is giving us.
- If you work in a business that is not exempted by the order, you can help MN get through this. You can volunteer at food banks and food shelves and blood centers. Or you can consider making a cash donation that takes care of people.
Update from Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove:
- Workers across the state are getting ready for the stay at home order
- 78% of the jobs are in critical industries
- The companies in the “gray area” can go to mn.gov/deed/critical to look at the list of occupations identified as critical. For clarification there’s a form people can fill out on that website.
- For many workers the next few weeks will be challenging. 28% of Minnesotans will be jobless. We continue to work on our unemployment insurance program
- 182,000 applications for unemployment insurance in Minnesota. That’s 5.9% of our labor force.
- About 17,255 new applications since yesterday.
- Nationally — more than 2 million unemployment insurance claims
- If you go to careerforcemn.com, we have resources to help Minnesotans with their job search.
Update from MN Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller
- We are really trying to stay in communication with our school leaders and provide guidance as we move into this implementation period.
- As we move into this distance learning period, we are not asking parents to become teachers
- For more information on what distance learning plans look like, check the districts’ websites
- Starting now, the free meals for kids mobile app will help families find meals. That’s in addition to the meals being provided at schools.
- www.hungerimpactpartners.org for more information on the free meals for kids app
Meanwhile, Governor Walz received a question about whether the Minnesota State Fair should be postponed. He said, “it’s probably too early” to talk about canceling it. “At this point in time we have not given it any thought.”