Governor Tim Walz talks about the expiring stay-at-home order in Minnesota

Walz tells Dave Lee: "I think Minnesota got this and I'm grateful"

The Morning News with Dave Lee
May 14, 2020 - 8:22 am

In his first interview since announcing the expiration of Minnesota's stay-at-home order on Wednesday night, Governor Tim Walz expressed his gratitude to Minnesotans, while also laying out that the challenges are far from over.  The order will now expire on Sunday night meaning that you can do more than just necessary trips such as grocery shopping.  

Retailers are permitted to open up to 50% capacity. There will also be guidance for bars, restaurants, salons and gyms open up on June 1. Gatherings should be limited to 10 or fewer with proper physical distancing. Residents should still wear masks, work from home if possible, and limit time congregating.

Talking to Dave Lee on the WCCO Morning News, Walz says overall, Minnesota did a good job. 

"I think Minnesota got this and I'm grateful for them. The whole purpose of this was just to push this out, flatten it and slow down. You're not going to prevent it. I think it's hard for people to kind of wrap their mind around folks are still going to get this (virus)."

The purpose of Walz' stay-at-home order, which went into effect March 25th, was to build up personal protection equipment for hospitals, and ICU bed capacity.  Walz notes that Minnesota now has more capacity than Illinois, who has two and half times the population of Minnesota. 

Walz said, "A stay-at-home order, which was meant to build those things again, not to necessarily stop anyone from getting it (the virus). It became apparent that you're trying to weigh whether staying in and building up a little bit more is worth it compared to the damage it does economically, psychologically and with other health issues. So it was over the last week or so, we got many data points.

"When we started this thing, we had no strategic state reserve. We thought there was a strategic national reserve. It turned out there was not. We do now. This is evolving, it changes every day. And as I said, it's going to be really dependent again on how fast we burn through that PPE, depending on how Minnesota, social distances, wash hands, stay home when they're sick. Just little things."

Walz also noted some frustration with the federal governement, which Walz has said previously pits states against other states in trying to gather supplies.  

"I wish we didn't have to fight with other States for PPE. I wish I wasn't losing testing to FEMA. That still happens. But Minnesota really just expects us to deliver. So I have to look at those numbers. I have to look what the health department tells me and they're telling me here's our capacity on ICU."

While the stay-at-home order expires, bars, restaurants, schools and churches are still waiting to see what happens between now and June 1st.  Dave Lee asked the governor if June 1st is a hard date to reopen.  Walz says that's his goal, but it's not firm.

"Well, I'm trying," said Walz. "I think it's a great question Dave. And I know that that's one of the things that's most frustrating is people appear like, you know, there's no certainty, that it is hard to be certain in this. And things change. I think what we're going to see is there's going to be a lot more data coming in from states that have done this a little bit earlier. States where we didn't take the same approach. I keep telling people what you need to watch is hospitalization recoveries. It's the people who are getting better again and they're getting better because we have the hospital space."

There has not been a plan yet for major sports to come back, although Major League Baseball has a proposal in front of the player's union to begin play around the first week of July.  

RELATED: Twins President Dave St. Peter hopeful a shortened season will happen.

Walz also said the extra time was important to restaurant owners. 

"These restaurants aneed some lead time to change their people, change their seating, order their supplies, and get those things back in order. If you'd just tell them, you know, go on Tuesday or whatever, it puts them at a disadvantage. So I'm trying, the best I can do." 

Walz also mentioned May 20th as an important date for new information for restaurants, bars, churches, salons, and other gathering places that have now been closed since March 18th

"That's where we're going to have some really hard data, really hard plans around some of these because these are some of the hardest places. And I don't think you can ever have this conversation without expressing, you know, frontline nurses and hospitals. I'm relying on them to show me, and you can go to our website to see if they're in green, yellow or red. But when the nurses say they're still nervous about the PPE, that means they're still nervous about the PPE. And if our frontline folks are worried, I have to listen to them. We've got about 16 days or so. And in the world of COVID, that is huge."

Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka expressed support. “We’re moving in the right direction,” Gazelka said in a video outside the capitol. “This is really good news."

As you get set to move more in the coming days and weeks, Governor Walz notes that he trusts Minnesotans to do the right thing.  "Not wearing a mask isn't a sign of rebellion," he told reporters after the announcement Wednesday evening. "It's just hurting your neighbor." 

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