MN Government Updates 09.03

Walz Press Conference

This afternoon, Governor Tim Walz and state health officials held a press conference urging Minnesotans to double down on efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 heading into Labor Day and the fall.

Governor Tim Walz

  • Governor Walz relayed concerns by Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, who believes Minnesota is a tipping point and potentially looking like Arizona from earlier this summer as it relates to case infection growth and community spread.
  • The governor made a renewed appeal to Minnesotans to keep social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks.
  • While acknowledging the state is at a potential tipping point, Walz said that Minnesota has the capacity to push back in the right direction.
  • “As we head into the fall and the long winter ahead, we must double down in our fight to combat the spread of COVID-19. We must all do our part to slow the spread, protect our communities, and keep our businesses open. I know it is hard, but Minnesotans are resilient people. We must dig deep, stay strong, and hold the virus at bay,” said Walz.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm reported 1,047 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is up 1,047 from yesterday’s report.
  • 264 of those positive cases were part of a large testing backlog and were reported yesterday.
  • Without those 264 cases, today’s new total would’ve been 783 new cases.
  • Just under 14,000 COVID-19 tests were processed.
  • Currently, 272 patients are hospitalized with 138 of those in the ICU.
  • Hospitalizations have decreased by 25.
  • ICU bed use has increased by three.
  • Seven more Minnesotans have died due to COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of deaths to 1,837.
  • Commissioner Malcolm reiterated the point Dr. Birx made about Minnesota beginning to look like other states that breached the tipping point for COVID-19 infections. The state is approaching the same level of cases from late winter/early spring, but the nature of transmission is very different.
  • In early spring, cases were coming from very specific settings such as long-term care facilities and food processing plants.
  • The latest wave of infections are coming from a variety of social gatherings – informal and public gatherings. A lot of private social activity is fueling case growth.
  • Data comparisons:
  • Back in July, Minnesota’s average daily case growth was 482 cases. Now it’s 743 cases.
  • The test positivity rate was at 4.3% in early July while it is 5.5% now.
  • Community spread (where there is an unknown source of infection) was at 27.8% in early July. Now it is at 33.5%.
  • With fall coming, schools opening, and colder weather approaching that will drive people inside, Minnesota is at a higher infection rate than state officials had hoped to be at this point in time.
  • While the state has not yet reached the tipping point, Minnesotans need to double down on their commitment to reducing the spread of the virus so that the state can avoid hitting the tipping point.
  • Minnesota is heading into Labor Day weekend at a high level. Holiday weekends can further fuel the epidemic.
  • Commissioner Malcolm urged extra caution around private gatherings like house parties, weddings, and funerals – given the case growth in private settings.

For more on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19 and the steps one can take to prevent the spread, visit mn.gov/covid19.

Special Session Likely Set for Next Friday

Following a meeting with Governor Tim Walz this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) said that the next special session of the legislature is likely to occur on Friday, September 11. The special session will have a limited agenda and it is unlikely that a bonding bill would be taken up that day. Minnesota is still in a post-bond sale blackout period where the state cannot make changes to its financial status. However, Gazelka said he supports passing a bonding bill at an appropriate time should the House be able to pass one.

Passing a bonding bill requires a three-fifths (60%) vote in support in each chamber.

  • With the DFL holding 75 of 134 House seats, at least six votes are needed from Republican members to pass a bonding bill in the House.
  • With the Republicans holding 35 of 67 Senate seats, at least six votes are needed from DFL members to pass a bonding bill in the Senate.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Gazelka have said they support a $1.35 billion bonding bill that also contains various tax provisions. However, since early May, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) has said his caucus won’t provide the needed votes for a bonding bill while the governor’s peacetime emergency powers remain in effect.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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100 Washington Avenue S | Suite 2200 | Minneapolis MN  55401

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