MN Government Updates 09.09

Walz Calls Fourth Special Session of 2020

Governor Tim Walz today announced that he will convene a special legislative session beginning on September 11, 2020. Governor Walz intends to extend the COVID-19 peacetime emergency by 30 days to ensure the state can continue to quickly and effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While Minnesota has taken life-saving action, the threat of COVID-19 remains,” said Governor Walz. “It’s imperative that we have the tools necessary to respond to this rapidly-evolving virus quickly and decisively in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of each and every Minnesotan.”

The special session is expected to be limited in scope and a bonding bill will not be voted upon given that Minnesota is still in a post-bond sale blackout period where the state cannot make changes to its financial status. The earliest the legislature could take action on a bonding bill is September 20.

Both the House and Senate are expected to vote on whether to allow the governor to continue his peacetime emergency powers. The DFL-controlled House is expected to vote to allow the powers to remain in effect while the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote to end them.

Minnesota Department of Health Briefing

This afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a press briefing with reporters to discuss the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The focus of today’s call was compliance checks on bars and restaurants.

Director Kris Ehresmann, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevent, and Control Division

  • Director Ehresmann reported 282 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 81,868.
  • The median age for a COVID-19 case is 35-years-old.
  • There were seven new deaths due to COVID-19. Four of these deaths were residents of long-term care facilities. This brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota to 1,869.
  • Currently, 263 patients are hospitalized with 137 of those in the ICU.
  • Hospitalizations increased by six.
  • ICU bed use increased by two.
  • The seven-day COVID-19 test positivity average is 5.5%. This is higher than a week before where it was at 5.3%.
  • When asked if the state might issue a decision about canceling trick-or-treating for Halloween, Director Ehresmann said it’s a decision the state needs to evaluate and guidance will be issued closer to October 31 based on case transmission in the next several weeks.

Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff, Department of Health

  • Assistant Commissioner Huff provided an update on the state’s effort on compliance checks on bars and restaurants.
  • Over the past two weekends, the Minnesota Department of Health along with other state agencies (Department of Public Safety, Department of Labor and Industry, and Department of Agriculture) have conducted compliance checks on 150 bars and restaurants around the state.
  • August 28-29: Compliance checks in Mankato, St. Peter, Waseca, Faribault, New Ulm
  • September 4-5: Compliance checks in Carver and Scott counties
  • Of the 167 establishments visited, the compliance teams observed 88 businesses were following the requirements while 79 were not in compliance.
  • Of those not in compliance, 31 were referred for follow-up inspections.
  • Issues ranged from not wearing masks, not maintaining social distancing, or a lack of a COVID-19 preparedness plan.
  • There have been 68 case clusters of people visiting 66 restaurant/bar locations.
  • 1,210 people have been infected with COVID-19 from visiting bars and restaurants.
  • Another 58 suspected outbreaks are coming from employees of bars and restaurants.
  • Assistant Commissioner Huff reiterated that the state has taken a targeted enforcement approach to compliance with the governor’s executive orders instead of having a statewide shutdown of bars and restaurants.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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