MN Government Updates 04.23

Walz Outlines Next Steps in COVID-19 Response in Minnesota

A day after announcing a statewide strategy for widespread testing, Governor Tim Walz today outlined next steps for the COVID-19 response in Minnesota. The governor extended distance learning through the end of the school year, announced a plan for up to 100,000 workers to safely return to their jobs, and explained the different factors determining the gradual re-opening of society in Minnesota.

With the health and safety of Minnesotans his top priority, the governor made clear the Stay Home order remains in effect as the state considers ways to gradually loosen restrictions starting with settings most conducive to safe practices.

Given those considerations, Governor Walz announced that distance learning will continue through the rest of the 2019-2020 school calendar year. The state continues to pursue opportunities to expand technology for students, provide guidance for educators on how to best connect with students, and support families.

Governor Walz also announced his decision to allow certain non-critical businesses to safely return to work. Developed in partnerships with hundreds of businesses, labor and worker organizations, and public health experts, this action will allow 80,000-100,000 Minnesotans to return to work in industrial, manufacturing, and office settings on Monday, April 27. Prior to loosening restrictions for a given setting, businesses must:

  • Create, share, and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that sets out the actions they are taking to ensure social distancing, worker hygiene, and facility cleaning and disinfection necessary to keep workers safe
  • Engage in health screening of employees and ensure that sick employees stay home
  • Continue to work from home whenever possible
  • Visit mn.gov/deed/safework for more information.

Walz Daily Press Briefing

This afternoon, Governor Walz and administration officials held a press conference to update the public on state efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s press conference was largely focused on the governor’s executive orders continuing distance learning for the remainder of the school year and allowing certain non-critical businesses to safely return to work.

Governor Tim Walz

  • Governor Walz used the first part of the briefing to provide an overview of what the state has done, what challenges remain, the objectives and approach moving forward, and factors to be considered for re-opening businesses.  His PowerPoint presentation on the subject can be found here.
  • He also outlined his two executive orders:
    • Executive Order 20-40: Allowing certain non-critical businesses to safely return to work beginning Monday, April 27.
    • Executive Order 20-41: Continuing distance learning until the end of the school year.
  • When asked about if parents should expect distance learning for the summer and fall, the governor responded that he doesn’t know at this point. He said the state would let parents know “as soon as humanly possible.”
  • When asked if the “Stay at Home” order has given hospitals time to prepare, the governor responded that it has but that, “The hardest days are ahead. The climb is still up. I cannot have a single person who needs an ICU bed or ventilator not get that. We have to make sure that is there.” He went on to say that the fight for more personal protective equipment is a real challenge for the state.
  • When asked if the Minnesota State Fair is going to happen, the governor responded, “This is important to Minnesota. We are going to listen to health experts. The state fair falls at the right of the dial. It’s a tough lift. I wouldn’t make a definitive call, but I wouldn’t give false hope. I don’t know how you social distance. Unfortunately, that’s the worst thing for COVID-19 control. It’s going to be a hard lift, but we’ll hope.”

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced today’s report had the largest growth totals day-over-day thus far for infections and fatalities with 223 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state total to 2,942.
  • Part of this increase is due to the fact the state is testing more.
  • These numbers are expected to grow.
  • An additional 21 Minnesotans have died due to COVID-19 since yesterday’s report. The state total is now at 200. 20 of the 21 were residents of long-term care facilities.
  • 268 patients are currently in the hospital with 104 of those in the ICU.

Commissioner Steve Grove, Department of Employment and Economic Development

  • Commissioner Grove announced that there have been 536,742 unemployment insurance applications since March 16. This is higher than the number during the Great Recession in 2009.
  • The commissioner addressed Executive Order 20-40, which begins the process of getting some non-essential businesses back to work.
  • Between 80,000 and 100,000 Minnesotans are able to return to work in industrial, manufacturing, and office settings beginning Monday, April 27.
  • Businesses must:
  • Create, share, and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that sets out the actions they are taking to ensure social distancing, worker hygiene, and facility cleaning and disinfection necessary to keep workers safe
  • Engage in health screening of employees and ensure that sick employees stay home
  • Continue to work from home whenever possible
  • DEED has more information at mn.gov/deed/safework

Senate Meets in Session

The Minnesota Senate convened a floor session today, but no votes on any bills were taken. The Senate is scheduled to return on Monday, April 27 at 11:00 a.m. The House will return for a floor session on Tuesday, April 28 at 12:00 p.m. 

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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