During a conference call March 25, Gov. Tim Walz ordered all Minnesotans to limit their movement outside of their homes to protect those most at risk from the pandemic — this request includes an extension of distance learning until May 4.
“There is no magic around a two-week period. We have weighed out the variables here, we believe at this point in time, as of today, that buys us enough time,” Walz said. “We’re authorizing the Commissioner of Education to implement our distance learning plan that is ready to start on Monday, the 30th and continue that until May 4.”
Walz also said public accommodations such as bars and restaurants will remain closed until 5 p.m. May 1. Essential activities that are allowed include getting gas, buying groceries and spending time outdoors, according to Walz.
“Be smart about this. Don’t congregate together, but if you can get out and social distance and walk, that’s good,” Walz said.
Walz said his main focus in asking Minnesotans to stay home is to slow and disperse cases of the virus in order to help hospitals treat patients. According to Walz, Minnesota has 235 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds available.
“Just to be clear, a shelter in place simply moves the date out. It doesn’t do anything in terms of reducing the infection rates, unless we have either a vaccine or therapeutics or increased ICU capacity. You’re still going to get the same results just at a later time,” Walz said.
As of 3 p.m. Minnesota has 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death.
As the pandemic continues to spread, President Donald Trump has said he hopes to lighten the restrictions in the near future.
“I hope we can do this by Easter. I think that would be a great thing for our country and we’re working very hard to make that a reality,” Trump said at a press conference March 24.
Walz said he has been working to find a good response to COVID-19 while addressing the needs of the state.
“There is a health component. There is a mental health component. There is an economic component of this. There’s a social component, and there’s a spiritual component about understanding as life goes on and how do we continue to address all of those needs for Minnesota,” Walz said.