Monday COVID-19 Update from Governor Tim Walz & the Minnesota Department of Health
COVID-19 Update from Minnesota Governor and the Minnesota Department of Health
Governor Tim Walz joined officials from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and other state agencies Monday afternoon to provide an update on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19.
During the call, Gov. Walz said he is self-quarantining at the governor’s residence with his family and is showing no symptoms after a member of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19.
Update from Gov. Walz:
- All state agencies are functioning.
- The governor extended his sympathies to the family of the first person in Minnesota who died as a result of COVID-19. He also extended his sympathies to Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, who’s brother died in Tennessee as a result of COVID-19; and John Bessler, the husband of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who was hospitalized with COVID-19.
- Over the course of the outbreak, Gov. Walz estimates between 40-80 percent of Minnesotans will be infected with COVID-19. The vast majority will recover without hospitalization.
- We are now at 235 cases statewide. That’s up from the 169 cases reported over the weekend.
The Governor issued four new executive orders today:
- Executive Order 20-14 suspends evictions and writs of recovery during COVID-19. During this health emergency, we’re asking people to stay home as much as possible. Having a stable home is critical.
- Executive Order 20-15: Provides immediate relief to small businesses. Small businesses and independent contractors will get help from emergency, low-interest loans.
- Executive Order 20-16 directing non-hospital entities to inventory their supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for possible distribution for medical use.
- Executive Order 20-17 clarifies Executive Order 20-08 to add veterinary services to be included in the prohibition of elective surgery.
Meanwhile, the governor declared that Minnesotans have until Wednesday, July 15 to file their tax returns without any penalty or interest. That now puts the state in line with the IRS.
Gov. Walz says he has also revised the state’s supplemental budget to allocate $356 million to Minnesota’s COVID-19 response.
Update from Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcom:
- Globally, we’re now over 350,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 15,300 deaths.
- In the United States, we’re at 35,241 confirmed cases and 473 deaths
- Here in Minnesota, we added 66 cases in our confirmed totals. Now up to 235 for Minnesota
- Since the start of the outbreak, we’ve had a total of 21 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, 12 patients are currently in the hospital, and five are in intensive care. The rest of the patients have recovered or are recovering at home.
- This total of 235 laboratory-confirmed cases reflect only the result of laboratory testing. We know that is an incomplete number. At this point, with confirmed community spread, we know there are more cases in Minnesota and the virus is circulating in communities. “In fact, we should assume it’s in all of our communities.”
- It’s very important everyone continues to follow the advice on community mitigation and social distancing to help us flatten the case curve.
- Anyone who’s ill should stay home and self-monitor your symptoms.
- The MDH public hotline is open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. every day of the week. People can call that hotline at (651) 201-3920.
- There are no cases of health care workers in MN being exposed to COVID-19 as a result of patient care.
Update from Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Mgmt. Director Joe Kelly
- Top priorities now are to acquire and distribute additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers and first responders.
- We are developing a system to globally manage PPE from all sources to move it to the people that need it the most.
- We used the MN National Guard over the weekend to immediately move some of that PPE from Camp Ripley to the MN Dept. of Health, and we will continue to use their logistics planners.
- We are developing a system to better track offers of help from Minnesotans, whether it be private citizens, businesses or non-profit organizations.
- Minnesotans should be careful so as to wash their hands after pumping gas or touching a door handle.
Update from DEED Commissioner Steve Grove:
- Executive Order 20-15, which helps small businesses and independent contractors — DEED has created an emergency loan program that will help MN small businesses who need immediate assistance to help their families and their business during this crisis.
- The program helps any business that was temporarily closed due to last week’s executive orders, such as bars and restaurants.
- It draws $30 million from some special revenue funds at DEED, and will leverage the department’s lender network to make those loans to small businesses across the state. That network is statewide.
- The amount of money that businesses can apply for is between $2,500 and $35,000.
- The loans will be 50 percent forgivable, and offered at a zero percent interest rate.
- However, every small business is encouraged to apply for the federal government’s Small Business Administration disaster relief loan program as well.
- The state loan program will help bridge the gap as the federal money comes in order to help small businesses get more immediate relief.
- We expect the state program will help 1,200 to 5,000 businesses statewide.
- DEED will have more information on how to apply later this week on its website.
- Executive Order 20-15 does one other thing, as it relates to making funds available to small businesses — it allows cities and counties who have revolving loan funds from the state to use those funds to issue loans to retail and service providers for the next 90 days.
- All told, this brings to bear up to $58 million for Minnesota small businesses. That’ll be available later this week.
- Unemployment insurance numbers — from the time we opened up the program to all COVID-19 workers, which was last Monday, we’ve seen 123,624 applications for unemployment insurance.
- Go to UIMN.org to apply, don’t jump on the phones to do so. Once you’ve applied, give the state a couple days before they get back to you. Checks should be going out this week.
Meanwhile, several states of implemented a shelter-in-place order for its residents. Governor Walz reiterated that he is not ready to do the same.
“We’re trying to use the best data that we have from the best experts, and there is not total agreement around some of these decisions,” said Walz.
“The question I’m asking is, how do we get social compliance where people can do this for a longer time period? How do you keep people in for a longer time period? I think those who are listening that think if we just shut everything down, don’t move anybody, in two weeks this passes. That is incorrect. That is not the way it works,” Walz said.
He cited examples of needing to keep people such electricians, plumbers and auto mechanics working.
“I am not prepared to announced that today, and I think people who are listening need to know the data and the science shows that there is not a clear-cut answer on this,” Walz said. “I am certainly reading and listening to my experts the best I can, and we will make the decision that’s in the best health and safety issue of Minnesotans with the best chance to do what we’re trying to do — keep people out of the hospital for the longest time possible, so that if you do need to go there, you get treatment.”
“Today at 2:45, we are not prepared to make that [decision], but we very soon could be.”