Walz Announces COVID-19 Response #4

Minnesota Report

In spite of not having fourteen days of a consistent downward trend on the number of cases, currently there have been 18,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 809 deaths, nor do we have a process for contract tracing in place, yesterday Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) announced the next steps forward. Catholic Archbishop Bernard Hebda is calling on is parishioners to defy to order and the clergy to hold normal services without adhering to Walz’ order. The conservative Lutheran churches of the Missouri and Wisconsin synod are following suit. The entirety of Walz’ order follows.

Governor Tim Walz today announced the phases in his Stay Safe Plan, including a cautious, strategic turn of the dial to allow limited outdoor dining at restaurants and bars starting June 1, 2020. The Governor also announced that salons and barbershops will be allowed to open June 1 at 25 percent occupancy to ensure the safety of both the employees and the customers inside. In both industries, customers will be either strongly recommended or required to wear masks, make reservations, and adhere to social distancing requirements to keep themselves, other customers, and employees safe.

Our restaurants and bars are an integral part of the social fabric of Minnesota, and it has been heartbreaking to see this pandemic wreak havoc on our hospitality industry,” said Governor Walz. “While the virus won’t yet allow for business as usual, let’s do what we do best after winter in Minnesota and head outside. Whether it’s a Jucy Lucy, a plate of tamales, or a walleye dinner, Minnesotans can support their local restaurant by enjoying a socially distanced meal outdoors.”

Outdoor dining can begin on June 1, with restaurants maintaining social distancing and seating no more than 50 patrons at a time. In addition to outdoor dining, restaurants and bars will be able to continue to offer takeout, curbside, and delivery services, which have been permitted throughout the pandemic in Minnesota. While Minnesota has ranked first in the nation for takeout and delivery patronage during the outbreak of COVID-19, restaurants and bars have been closed for in-person dining since March 17. Since then, the State of Minnesota has worked with the health care sector to expand health care capacity and procure ICU beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment.

This is a measured approach that matches the thoughtfulness and generosity of our restauranteurs, who have found creative ways to safely feed their neighbors throughout this pandemic – but making this work relies on all of us,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Supporting your favorite businesses means following health and safety rules at all times – making an appointment or reservation, maintaining social distance, washing your hands, and wearing a mask. It also means that workers are protected if they report concerns about the health and safety practices of their workplace. That’s how we can keep each other healthy so we can continue safely turning the dial in Minnesota.”

It’s important for all Minnesotans to remember that they have a big role to play in making this reopening process successful,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “By continuing to follow social distancing guidelines, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying home when sick, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable friends and family members.”

On May 13, Governor Walz replaced Minnesota’s Stay Home order with a Stay Safe order as Minnesota continues to safely turn the dial back towards normal life. The Stay Safe order includes a plan for a phased reopening of society as well as a plan to dial back based on the rate of testing, new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Governor Walz has stressed the importance of reopening cautiously and strategically, which is why salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen on June 1 with only 25 percent occupancy and additional safety measures in place.

While all Minnesotans are eager to get a haircut, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our salons and barbershops that put their businesses on hold in order to allow the state time to prepare for COVID-19,” Governor Walz continued. “With the addition of safety measures like personal protective equipment and a limited number of people inside, it’s safe to say we’re not going back to normal. But we can cautiously turn the dial back as Minnesotans continue to do their part to stay safe. Make a reservation, wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay home if you’re feeling sick.”

Now is the time for innovative solutions as we navigate a new normal, support our favorite businesses and ensure the safety of workers and customers,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “This phased approach to reopening our economy is rooted in safety for everyone, and will ensure we can continue to put more Minnesotans back to work and make data-driven decisions at every turn of the dial.”

Outdoor dining and limited salon occupancy are part of phase II of Governor Walz’s Stay Safe Plan. This phase will go into effect on June 1 and will include the opening of campgrounds and other recreational activities. More information on the actives included in the various phases within the Stay Safe Plan can be found here.

As the Walz-Flanagan Administration works to cautiously adjust the dials in Minnesota, the Governor has taken steps to ensure workers are being protected as more businesses reopen. The Governor signed an executive order preventing workers from being fired for refusing to work in unsafe conditions. Business must continue to protect their employees while also taking steps to protect their customers. More information on worker protections can be found here.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) sent a letter, signed by all of the members of the majority caucus to Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) raising concerns over the administration’s interpretation of peacetime emergency powers and the use of enforcement action.

20200519 Letter to Gov Walz and Atty Gen Ellison

 

 

 

Republicans Irked by State Employee Raises Going Forward

Minnesota Report

When the Senate Republicans passed the State Employee Contract, they did so with an amendment to only agree to the increase or the first year of the contract, but the interpretation of Office of Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans is they are only allowed a an affirmative or negation vote without substitution. Since the matter passed both houses the contract as written is ratified.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) fired off the following. “There is no room for a reasonable person to ‘interpret’ the recent action of the Minnesota Senate when it comes to the state employee contracts. The plain language in the bill was clear: ratify the first year of the contract but forgo the 2.5% raise for the second year. The Walz administration would look very tone deaf if they interpreted this action as full ratification of the contract, even if they invent a legal framework to justify their decision. It’s impossible to justify asking the 650,000 Minnesotans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own to help shoulder the burden of the extra costs of this contract. In fact, there are 12 unemployed Minnesotans for every state employee who would receive a raise this July.”

It’s clear this will put a huge monkey wrench into the negotiations for a future special session. Especially, when some Republicans want to curtail Governor TIm Walz’ (DFL-MN) executive authority. The problem is there is not a similar disposition in the house and so not legislation will emanate from it, but it will definitely impact negotiations.

What the House Retiree Districts Look Like Numerically

Minnesota Report

We have looked at the thirteen house districts in which the incumbent is retiring and have seen an interesting picture. There are nine DFLers, two are freshmen, and four Republicans. Each of the Republican seats are in rural districts and are veritable safe Republican seats. The two retiring freshmen are in swing seats and the bulk of the other DFL seats should remain in DFL control with the excepting of 25B, in Rochester which should prove to be a challenge for retention, but likely will remain in DFL hands if the candidate works hard.

We see seats 25B, 56A and 56B all being on the DFL target list. Based on this list there isn’t much of a threat to the DFL Majority.

We have listed the election results for the 2016 Donald J Trump (R) campaign and the 2018 results for Tim Walz in each locality to provide a better understanding of the political landscape, in each of the districts.

Retiree Party Open Seat DFL Endorsed Candidate Republican Endorsed Candidate GLCP Candidate LMN Candidate Election Result 2018 Election Result 2016 Trump Factor Walz Effect Notes
Dan Fabin R 01A Connie Lindstrom John Burkel N/A N/A 71.14% 74.24% 64.60% 36.15% Rural District/Good Republican Seat
Ben Lien DFL 04A Heather Keeler Edwin Hahn N/A N/A 65.45% 62.20% 41.27% 56.08% Rural District-Regional Center/Good DFL Seat
Bud Norness R 08A Brittany Johnson Jordan Rasmusson N/A N/A 59.77% 65.19% 62.50% 37.92% Rural District/Good  Republican Seat
Jack Considine DFL 19B Luke Frederick Joe Steck N/A N/A 63.40% 59.55% 40.51% 63.13% Rural District-Regional Center/Good DFL Seat
Bob Vogel R 20A Erina Prom Alan Mackenthun, Marko Popovich, Brian Pfarr* N/A N/A 63.55% 60.81% 62.17% 39.18% Rural District/Safe Republican
Bob Gunther R 23A Open Christian Bjorn Olson,  Michael J Sukalski* N/A N/A 61.26% 68.14% 65.92% 38.61% Rural District/Safe Republican
Duane Sauke DFL 25B Liz Boldon Steve Wilson N/A N/A 60.10% 51.79% 39.79% 58.63% Rural District-Regional Center/Swing Seat
Mary Kunesh-Podein DFL 41B Sandra Feist Open N/A N/A 65.77% 63.24% 28.81% 68.06% Suburban District/Safe DFL
Lyndon Carlson DFL 45A Cedrick Frazier Jesse Pfliger N/A N/A 65.35% 56.80% 33.19% 62.02% Suburban District/Safe DFL
Hunter Cantrell DFL 56A Jess Hanson Open N/A N/A 52.74% 55.96% 43.74% 51.90% Suburban District/Swing Seat changed to DFL 2018
Alice Mann DFL 56B Kaela Berg Roz Peterson N/A N/A 52.64% 52.37% 43.48% 52.90% Suburban District/Swing Seat changed to DFL 2018
Jean Wagenius DFL 63B Emma Greenman Open N/A N/A 80.83% 76.19% 18.41% 78.45% Urban District/Safe DFL
Tim Mahoney DFL 67A John Thompson Open N/A N/A 96.41% 76.34% 21.38% 72.53% Urban District/Safe DFL
*Registered w/ Campaign Finance

 

When we looked on the Republican Party website looking for their endorsed candidates we saw some revisionist history. The MN GOP is still displaying the state house member list from 2018 and they were listed as senate members.

The Best Example of the Legislative Chasm: Bonding Bill

Minnesota Report

DFLers and Republicans are at odds over whether or not a Bonding Bill is a Jobs Bill. The two sides are also at loggerheads over whether or not long-term spending through bonds is a prudent fiscal decision. The cost of spending for a government backed General Obligation bond is 30-years in length and the cost born comes with a debt-service component to be paid the bondholder. This interest backed security gives government the leverage to borrow into the future for projects buildable when shovel-ready and the money to pay for the capital expense is paid for through a bond purchase.

The House, which is where spending bills start presented its bonding bill on Saturday.  Capital Investment Division Chair Mary Murphy (DFL03B, Hermantown) brought forward HF2529 which appropriates almost $2.03 billion in general obligation bonds, and a additional $495.9 million appropriations, for a grand total of $2.52 billion. It has been roundly argued in this time of a pandemic a large bonding bill may help jumpstart the economy once our state is fully back up and running. In spite of the legislation containing a provision in his own district House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) called for opposition to the bill as too costly.

The failed to receive the 3/5ths supermajority receiving a vote of 75-58 falling 6 votes short.

The Senate Capital Investment Committee Chair David Senjem (R-25, Rochester) brought forward SF3463 with an $998 million price tag. This failed on a recorded vote of 38-29 vote. With Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09-Nisswa) blaming the DFL and saying, “This is the last train leaving the station for bonding,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake). “It’s disappointing that we couldn’t come together tonight on this responsible, important bill. All four leaders and all four caucuses- including Senate Democrats- and the Governor, have to work together for Minnesota.”

The inability for Senate Republicans to bring forward a bill exceeding $1 billion is an example of how the two sides see the world in dramatically different ways.

Legislative Session Ends with a Flatulence in a Wind Funnel or FWF

Minnesota Report

 When competing political ideologies are at play, the ability to achieve consensus is a far way island, and reaching it, is a distant, remote and implausible likelihood. The reason being political people are hard-pressed to see beyond their own vested interests—especially in an election year—and fail to envision any collective outcome different than beating the opposition political party. In February, at the beginning of the legislative session, the members of the legislature sequestered at the University of Minnesota, without public scrutiny to learn lessons intended to foster compromise, which in the end failed.

In spite of attending the One Minnesota Legislative Policy Conference—which discussed negotiation skills and tools and an end-of-session redesign—at the onset of the legislative session, in the end in May, it was an all too familiar routine result and the host of good intensions were sacrificed on the altar of political partisanship. What likely was missing, was a buying in of all parties to the fundamental premise of One Minnesota, since this was the slogan of Governor Tim Walz’ campaign (DFL-MN). We doubt there is a universal idea of what this means, especially since most perspectives are determined by where one sits.

More apt, in our opinion, we are a Fractured Minnesota, a state where we are on the verge of a significant election during a global pandemic, we all witness differing ideologies on how to respond to this crisis. The pressures have been juxtaposed as a choice between saving lives and livelihoods, but we believe there is a different aspect in play and the competing tensions are saving lives over maintaining lifestyles.

A substantial issue as a backdrop is the legislative majorities are essential in determining the legislative political boundaries which remain in effect for the next ten years. Through the US Census, Minnesota will see the amount of impact Greater Minnesota has shrink in a major way through redistricting and the 2020 election is the last opportunity for this constituency to flex its proverbial muscles, but only if the Republicans maintain control of the state senate, regain the majority in the state house or both.

At the top of the ballot is the most influential element in the 2020 election, Donald J Trump (R). He is both a divisive and unifying factor depending upon your particular perspective. When he began his assessment of the COVID-19 epidemic, he first dismissed it as a hoax, then downplayed it as something that will magically end, proposed treating it with hazardous chemicals, like drinking bleach and finally pressed for a resolve of acceptance of the loss of life in order to get the economy back up and running. The sacrifice to be made by those who are unable to survive the experience.

The nostalgia he projects for before COVID-19 is a bizarre approach to denial it ever occurred and he is seeking a V-curve surge in the economy to save his reelection. As he touts the improbability of a magic vaccine, or if no vaccine manifests, then people just need to move forward lacking one we are left without any guidance from the Chief Executive.  Since our economy is so heavily dependent upon consumerism.

In this time of the pandemic and the Trump approach it brings to mind Thorstein Velben and his societal critique of what he called Conspicuous Consumption, which at the turn of the 20th Century warned of “This boom has seen a binge of consumption that for the first time human longevity might turn down because we are eating ourselves to death. Death by consumption used to explain a fatal case of tuberculosis, now it could explain the rise in obesity, diabetes and cancers.”

This sets up the structured differences. Those who seek to protect and save lives through stay-at-home orders, social distancing, mask wearing and increased hygiene techniques are prescribing their beliefs on others through government dictates. The oppression of a single set of standards is in direct opposition to a more lassez faire economic approach, less government involvement in personal decisions, accept abortion, and a more NIMBY (Not in my backyard) perspective.

The Minnesota response to COVID-19 was determined by Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN), who is not up for reelection in 2020, through Executive Orders in mid-March. This unilateral approach was tacitly accepted by Republicans initially, but began to lose acceptance and stableness as time wore on. People who were forced to contend with staying-at-home, homeschooling their children and lose of economic stability became greater pressures than public health.

Now the sharp divides have returned and the two sides will now battle this out at the ballot box in November, the question is will Walz by fiat present his own magic bullet and declare the November election to be applied through a Universal mailed ballot and all eligible citizens be mailed a ballot whether or not they are preregistered. Again, as we have often said, its not the election process Republican fear, it’s the impact of turnout they are unable to contend with.

Legislative Return/Special Session 2020

Minnesota Report

We are hearing the legislature will likely be recalled for Special Session June 12th, which is just before Governor Tim Walz’ (DFL-MN) last peacetime emergency declaration is set to expire. In order to declare another one, he will need to receive legislative approval, and with the two sides so diametrically opposed it is not likely.

Walz Announces Minnesota Supreme Court Appointment

Minnesota Report

Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) announces his first appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court Judge Gordon Moore as the replacement for retiring Justice David Lillehaug.

Judge Gordon Moore currently serves as a judge in the Fifth Judicial District chambered in Worthington in Nobles County, where he presides over a wide variety of criminal, civil, juvenile, probate, and child protection matters. Previously, Judge Moore served as the Nobles County Attorney, where he managed the office and was the county’s chief prosecutor. Prior to becoming the Nobles County Attorney, Judge Moore was an associate attorney and assistant city attorney at the Worthington law firm Malters, Shepherd & Von Holtum. He also was a special assistant and assistant attorney general under Attorney General Hubert Humphrey. Judge Moore’s community involvement has included service on the Worthington First United Methodist Church’s Board of Trustees, as a member of the Worthington Hockey Association’s Board of Directors, a youth hockey and soccer coach, founding director of the Worthington Futbol Club, and roles as chair with the boards of School District 518 and the Worthington Area YMCA.

Walz Set to Announce Minnesota Supreme Court Appointment

Minnesota Report

Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) announces his first appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court Judge Gordon Moore as the replacement for retiring Justice David Lillehaug.

Judge Gordon Moore currently serves as a judge in the Fifth Judicial District chambered in Worthington in Nobles County, where he presides over a wide variety of criminal, civil, juvenile, probate, and child protection matters. Previously, Judge Moore served as the Nobles County Attorney, where he managed the office and was the county’s chief prosecutor. Prior to becoming the Nobles County Attorney, Judge Moore was an associate attorney and assistant city attorney at the Worthington law firm Malters, Shepherd & Von Holtum. He also was a special assistant and assistant attorney general under Attorney General Hubert Humphrey. Judge Moore’s community involvement has included service on the Worthington First United Methodist Church’s Board of Trustees, as a member of the Worthington Hockey Association’s Board of Directors, a youth hockey and soccer coach, founding director of the Worthington Futbol Club, and roles as chair with the boards of School District 518 and the Worthington Area YMCA.

New Provisions for MN During Corona Pandemic Effective Date May 18, 2020

Minnesota Report

Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) has extended the peacetime emergency put forward new provisions to all the opening of some businesses, to 50% of their capacity, when safety protocols are in place. He sent the following letter to legislative leaders. after that we have included the attached the Executive Orders now in effect and press release. The effective date is May 18, 2020.

Sent to: Speaker of the House Representative Melissa Hortman, Minority Leader Representative Kurt Daudt, Majority Leader Senator Paul Gazelka, Minority Leader Senator Susan Kent

Thank you for your partnership during these challenging times. As you know, on March 13, 2020, in Executive Order 20-01, I declared a peacetime emergency to respond to the COVID19 pandemic. That declaration was extended by the Executive Council on March 16, 2020. After notifying you of my intentions, on April 13, 2020, I extended the peacetime emergency until today, May 13, 2020. When I wrote to you last month, Minnesota had experienced 70 fatalities as a result of COVID-19. As of yesterday, COVID-19 had claimed the lives of more than 600 Minnesotans. We have continued to implement policies and exercise emergency powers to protect the health and safety of all Minnesotans. As COVID-19 cases and fatalities continue to increase, our emergency efforts must also continue. As a result, I have determined that there is a need to extend the peacetime emergency for an additional 30 days, until June 12, 2020.  Minnesota law provides that the Legislature may terminate a peacetime emergency that extends beyond 30 days by a majority vote of each house of the Legislature. Minnesota law also provides that, if I determine a need to extend a peacetime emergency beyond 30 days, and the Legislature is not sitting in session, I must issue a call immediately convening both houses of the Legislature. Because the Legislature is currently sitting in session, there is no need for me to issue such a call. Please consider this letter as notice of my intention to extend the peacetime emergency declared in Executive Order 20-01 beyond 30 days under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.31, subdivision 2(b). Although I am not expressly required to do so, I plan to seek the Executive Council’s approval of this extension and any future extensions. As I explained last month, although Minnesota law is largely silent as to the procedure for extending peacetime emergencies beyond 30 days, I have concluded that the following procedure, which draws on elements of Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.31, subdivision 2, is prudent:

  • I will continue to extend the peacetime emergency in 30-day increments, calculated in accordance with Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 645.15.
  • I will seek the Executive Council’s approval of each extension.
  • If the Legislature is not currently sitting in session on the day of the extension, I will call the Legislature into special session.

 

If a further extension of the peacetime emergency is needed beyond June 12, 2020, I will follow the above steps and call the Legislature into a special session on or before June 12, 2020.

 

Sincerely,

Tim Walz Governor

 

The response from Sen Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) states the following,

“We’re moving in the right direction,…This is really good news. I’m glad that he listened to us and I feel like we lead the way. Now it’s up to us, you and me, that we practice safe distancing. I have every confidence we’re going to be able to do it. Minnesota is back on track.” The full response is available on video. 

MN EO 20-56 -Extending the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency Declared in Executive Order 20-0

MN EO 20-55-Protecting Workers from Unsafe Working Conditions and Retaliation During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency

MN EO 20-54 -Protecting the Rights and Health of At-Risk Populations during the COVID19 Peacetime Emergency

MN EO 20-53 -Safely Reopening Minnesota’s Economy and Ensuring Safe Non-Work Activities during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency

 

Governor Walz Announces Next Phase of COVID-19 Response in Minnesota

Citing progress made to prepare for peak of infection, Walz announced measured, cautious ‘turning of dial’ toward new normal

 With Stay Home order set to expire on May 18, Walz will replace it with an order continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home but allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less

 Walz also opening retail stores and other main street businesses if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50 percent occupancy

 

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Today, Governor Tim Walz announced the next phase of the COVID-19 response in Minnesota. Citing progress made to prepare for peak of infection, the Governor announced a measured, cautious turning of the dial toward a new normal. With the Stay Home Executive Order set to expire on May 18, the Governor will replace it with an order continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home but allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less. The Governor will also open retail stores and other main street businesses if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50 percent occupancy.

“Minnesotans, thank you for your continued sacrifices,” Governor Walz said. “You have saved thousands of lives. You successfully pushed out the peak of this virus and bought our state time to get ready to treat those who fall ill. We know there’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we have made great progress to prepare for it.”

 “This is not the time for sudden movements,” Governor Walz continued. “We are not flipping a switch and going back to normal all at once. We are slowly moving a dial and introducing more interaction between people over time. As we take cautious steps forward, it is more important than ever that we protect those most at risk, support workers, and all do our part to slow the spread of the virus.”

 

In conjunction with this announcement today, the Governor signed Executive Orders to protect Minnesotans most at risk from the virus and safeguard workers. The first Executive Order strongly encourages Minnesotans at greatest risk of serious illness to continue staying home. The second Executive Order ensures workers can raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of discrimination or retaliation. It also protects workers from loss of income if they refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

“As we slowly and cautiously move the dial, we are centering Minnesota workers in our decisions,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “At this moment, worker protections are paramount. Minnesotans with underlying conditions can and should continue staying home to protect their health, and those who return to work can and should raise concerns about the health and safety practices of their workplaces without fear of discrimination or retaliation. That’s how we stay safe together.”

Following the guidance of public health officials, the Governor today announced a preliminary set of health indicators that could trigger a decision to re-impose restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. These indicators will be refined over time as we learn more about the virus and the course of the pandemic in Minnesota. They include the number of COVID-19 tests that can be conducted as well as the rate of increase in:

  • Number of new COVID-19 cases
  • Percent of COVID-19 tests that are positive
  • Percent of COVID-19 cases for which the source of infection is unknown

“Minnesota is still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and we will be dealing with its impacts for many months,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “We’ve made encouraging progress on preparedness and on safeguarding our most vulnerable, and that work will continue. As Governor Walz adjusts the state’s response and guidance to meet current and future needs, we will continue to track the course of the pandemic and apply the many things we are learning about the virus and its risks. Our goal is to protect the most vulnerable Minnesotans while also learning how to live with this pandemic until a vaccine becomes widely available.”

When the Stay Home MN order ends on May 18, the Governor announced today that he will be replacing it with a new order that brings back more social interactions. Titled “Stay Safe MN,” Minnesotans are still asked to stay close to home and limit travel to what is essential. But the order allows gatherings with friends and family in groups of 10 or less with social distancing. In all cases, Minnesotans are asked not to gather in large groups. All gatherings are limited to 10 and social distancing with masks, hand-washing and other safety measures should be followed to protect each other.

An additional executive order announced today will allow retail stores, malls, and main street businesses to reopen for in-person shopping as long as they have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place that incorporates social distancing protocols for workers and customers and limits occupancy to no more than 50 percent of the establishment’s occupant capacity. The Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) estimates that this action will enable up to 37,000 more workers to safely return to work over the next several weeks. Additional guidance, including a template plan and checklist for businesses, is available on DEED’s website at mn.gov/deed/safework.

“Ensuring the health and safety of workers and customers is the top priority as we gradually reopen our economy and put more people back to work,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “We have worked closely with our state’s business community and labor organizations and listened to Minnesotans across the state about our next steps, and we’re eager to see more businesses expand operations with the necessary safety protocols in place.”   

The Governor also announced today that he is directing his cabinet to assemble similar guidance on how to safely re-open bars, restaurants, barbershops, and salons beginning June 1. This will coincide with a significant increase in testing, tracing, and isolating the virus in the state.

The Governor today also extended his peacetime emergency authority until June 12. Extending the peacetime emergency in Minnesota allows the Governor to keep his toolbox open so he can take critical, swift action to protect Minnesotans. Being in a peacetime state of emergency has allowed Minnesota to: enhance protections for veterans in our veterans homes; activate the National Guard to assist in relief efforts; provide economic relief and stability to those impacted by the pandemic; and more. The Governor’s letter to state legislative leaders on the peacetime emergency extension is attached.

 

The full prepared text of Governor Tim Walz’ speech.

 

Good Evening.

This week, Minnesota celebrated 162 years of statehood.

From the Indigenous people who have called this land home from time immemorial to newcomers seeking opportunity, the people of Minnesota have faced great challenges over the years.

Soldiers not coming home from war. Breadlines stretching around street corners during the Great Depression. Fierce floods wreaking havoc on communities. A bridge collapsing in the middle of Minneapolis.

And as our state starts our 163rd year, we face a challenge we’ve never seen before: COVID-19.

A global pandemic.

COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. The virus has claimed the lives of more than 600 Minnesotans.

Grandparents. Parents. Daughters. Sons.

Friends. Neighbors. Coworkers.

We honor their memories. We will never forget them.

We will also never forget the countless heroes who have answered the call during this crisis.

On behalf of all Minnesotans, thank you to the health care workers and first responders who continue to put their lives on the line every day to protect us. From hospitals to care facilities, these Minnesotans are putting themselves in harms way to keep us safe. We must do everything we can to support and protect them.

Thank you to all the other workers: the grocer. The farmer. The meat processor. The teacher. The child care provider. The sanitation worker. And so many more who may have been overlooked before and now we find ourselves leaning on when times are tough.

And times are tough, Minnesota. Many of you are out of work. Businesses are shuttered. Families are struggling to pay rent. People are worried about making ends meet.

The companionship we normally lean on to get through difficult times—a hug from a grandparent, coffee with a friend, or a laugh with a co-worker—are forced out of reach.

As I said during my State of the State address last month, COVID-19 exceeds the reality of Minnesota’s harshest winters.

Seeing what was coming, we told you we weren’t ready. We asked you to slow the spread of the virus by staying home. We told you we needed time to prepare for this fight.

 We have used that time wisely.

 We have built out hospital capacity so that we can ensure as many Minnesotans as possible receive the care they need when they need it. 

We have increased the number of ventilators and ICU beds for when people fall really ill.

We have sourced critical care and personal protective equipment for the selfless doctors, nurses, first responders, and so many others on the frontlines.

And we launched an aggressive testing strategy with Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and our hospitals to test every symptomatic Minnesotan. Today we hit an all-time record with over 6,700 Minnesotans tested.

All of this work was done in partnership with our cutting-edge health sector, innovative business community, world-class universities, and everyday Minnesotans like you from across the state.

We know there’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we have prepared for it.

We’ve successfully pushed out and reduced the peak of this virus, and we’ve made great progress to ensure we can treat Minnesotans who fall ill.

Thank you for your sacrifices. You have saved the lives of thousands of Minnesotans.

At this point in time, Minnesota is staying steady in hospitalizations.

With the capacity that we built while you stayed home, we can chart a new way forward.

We believe that we should be able to handle an increase in cases as more people move out and about.

We can use what we have learned about the virus and how it spreads to inform our next steps.

We can take a measured, Minnesota approach that protects public health and improves economic stability.

This means cautious, strategic steps forward.

And it means clear measures for determining if and when we need to pull back.

We are not flipping a switch and all going back to normal at once. We are slowly moving a dial and introducing more interaction between people over time.

As we consider what can safely resume or reopen, we must take into account three critical factors.

First, how close you are to another person in a given setting or activity.

Second, how long you are in close proximity to another person.

Third, how predictable the setting is.

For example, walking past people in a hardware store wearing a mask is less risky and more predictable than sitting for a meal in a crowded restaurant.

This is the lens we are using when considering how we can safely turn the dial.

And starting May 18, we are turning the workplace dial. Non-critical businesses, like retail stores and main street businesses, can reopen if they have a safety plan and operate at no more than 50 percent occupancy.

Small businesses are critical to the social and economic fabric of communities across Minnesota. I recognize how hard the pandemic has been on them, and I hope this action charts a safe, prosperous path forward.

We can make this turn of the dial and keep people safe, if we can trust each other to continue to be cautious. We need business owners to follow the new guidance to protect workers and customers. And we encourage customers to wear masks, socially distance, and not congregate in stores.

As we look forward, I have directed my cabinet to continue the extensive discussions they are already having with health experts and thousands of businesses on future openings.

I’m directing them to assemble similar guidance on how to safely re-open bars, restaurants, barbershops, and salons beginning June 1. This will coincide with a significant increase in testing, tracing, and isolating the virus in the state.

We are also turning the social dial. We know this has been hard. Weddings, funerals, graduations postponed. The letters I’ve received from young children offering to cancel their birthday parties break my heart. Our social and mental well-being is an important factor as we chart our path forward.

When the Stay Home order ends on May 18, we are replacing it with a new order that brings back more of the social interactions that are so important in life but that still asks Minnesotans to Stay Safe.

Stay Safe MN will still ask people to stay close to home and limit travel to what’s essential. But we can now gather with friends and family in groups of 10 or less.

In all cases, we are asking Minnesotans not to gather in large groups. All gatherings—whether a backyard barbecue or a religious meeting at a church, synagogue, or mosque—are limited to 10 and require social distancing.

Don’t get me wrong. We believe that the safest place you can be is at home, but we know we cannot continue like this forever. So we are gradually making turns on both the business and social dials in order to slowly and safely reopen society.

This situation is fluid. There’s much we still don’t know about this virus, and as I said previously, we must be prepared to dial back if needed. We will continue to follow the guidance of public health experts and make data-driven decisions.

We will monitor the rate of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. If there are sudden rate increases or a potential spike, we will move the dial back quickly and strategically.

Whenever we make any movement to ease restrictions, we must protect the safety of those returning to work.

Our state’s health care workers, emergency responders, and other professionals are doing their jobs under demanding and stressful conditions to provide services to Minnesotans.

These front-line workers – and their patients, coworkers, and family members – are at heightened risk.

As even more Minnesotans head back to work in these settings, we must protect their safety and dignity.

That is why I signed an Executive Order today to ensure workers can raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of discrimination or retaliation.

As there is more interaction between people, we must protect those in our communities that are most vulnerable to the virus. That is why I also signed an Executive Order today to strongly encourage Minnesotans at greatest risk of serious illness to continue staying home.

We know the virus rides hardest on people who already have health challenges. People who have lung and heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or weakened immune systems are more likely to end up in the hospital if they get COVID-19.

We know this virus is especially lethal for our elderly. It has already stolen the lives of so many of our Greatest Generation.

We must do everything in our power to protect our older Minnesotans. Last week, we announced a Five Point Battle Plan to protect our senior Minnesotans and keep this virus at bay in thousands of our long-term care facilities.

And now we are asking people who have underlying conditions and who are over 65 years old to take extra precautions. We are not requiring it, but it is strongly encouraged that if you are able to stay home – continue to stay home.

For those of you who we are asking to continue to self-isolate, we are committing to keep you connected to the services, food support and companionship that you will need to stay well.

We all have seniors or friends with health challenges in our lives. Take the time to reach out to them. A phone call, a card in the mail, or a quick text can make all the difference.

We also know the virus feeds on existing inequalities. This public health crisis is exacerbating the racial, economic, and geographic inequities that have been here all along.

According to the data, disproportionate number of African Americans are testing positive for COVID-19. Since the pandemic struck a third of the Native American work force is newly unemployed.

We must not look away from this reality, and we must plan for and lift up every Minnesotan in our response to COVID-19. We leave no one behind.

Whether our workers, our elderly, our medically vulnerable, or our communities of color and indigenous communities, we will look out for you. Let me be clear: no life is disposable.

Minnesotans, I’ve told you what we are doing on our part. Now we need you to do yours.

It has never been more important for you to look out for your neighbor.

We are still in the heart of this pandemic, and this can go in a bad direction very quickly.

We must keep this virus at a “simmer,” and not a “boil.”

As a former teacher, I care a lot about report cards. A little more than a month ago our state received an “A” grade in social distancing. Last week, the state was given a “D”. This is unacceptable.

Minnesotans, we pride ourselves for exceptionalism. We love to be the best at things. And one of those things we are best at is looking out for our neighbors.

We can, must, and will do better.

I asked you to Stay Home. You did and in doing so, you saved lives. Now I am asking you to Stay Safe.

We are counting on Minnesotans to take personal responsibility for their own health and the health of their community.

Stay Safe means work from home if you can. Wear masks when you go out to shop. Stay close to home if you have to travel. Gather only in groups of 10 or less. Keep at least 6 feet apart from each other. Get tested if you have symptoms – and Stay Home if you are sick.

I am asking you to continue to take these precautions to protect your own health and the health of the people around you. It’s never been more clear how connected we are and how our individual decisions impact the lives of others.

We’ve turned the dial on businesses. We’ve turned the dial on social life. We are doing that because we are trusting people to Stay Safe by making smart choices.

However, we know that this will mean more people will get sick and some will end up in the hospital. We have prepared for that inevitability.

We have increased ICU beds and ventilators for those who get really sick. We have masks, gowns and gloves for the health care workers who will have to take care of them.

We have strategies for protecting those most vulnerable to COVID – those in nursing homes and those experiencing homelessness.

We have plans for eliminating hot spots when the virus impacts workers in place like food processing plants.

But we have work to do. Work that we all must do. We must continue to slow the spread of the virus.

We will test people and find out where the virus is spreading. When people learn they have the virus they have to stay home so they do not spread it.

We have to ease back into doing business – but not the way we used to. Employers have to implement new protections for employees and customers.

We all have to remain cautious for our own health and the health of our neighbors.

So yes, the Stay at Home order is expiring and the dials are turning. But that does not mean we are care free or can return to the way things were.

 It means we have to Stay Safe and take care – care of our own health and care for our community.

Many of you have selflessly chosen to stay home and forgo celebrating important milestones or taking long planned trips in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Others have changed how you worship, work, study, exercise, and connect with friends and family.

 And many more of you have lost jobs, closed doors on businesses and experienced real financial hardship as the virus has limited where we can gather and how we can do business.

 I am grateful for all of those sacrifices and I am sorry for all the disruption and hardship the response to the pandemic has required.

At each turn we’ve tried to ease the economic impact of the virus with unemployment payments, business loans, and income and food supports.

We know that in many cases it isn’t enough. We are grateful to the generosity of foundations and individuals who are helping families fill in the gaps of rent, food, and child care costs.

I am proud of how Minnesotans have stepped up for each other, both by staying home and reaching out to those in need. Whether it is by sewing and donating face masks, contributing to food shelves, or practicing social distancing, we need all of you to continue to put the care and safety of others at the front of your mind.

Do not charge forward as everything is normal.

Unfortunately, we aren’t through winter yet.

These last several weeks have been difficult, and it will only get harder.

But we will get through. We are resilient people with a deep reserve of courage, optimism, and grit.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. No matter how daunting the challenge; no matter how dark the times; Minnesota has always risen up—by coming together.

Our blood saved the Union at Gettysburg.

Our iron forged the tanks that liberated Europe.

Our farmers sparked a green revolution that fed the world.

Our imagination transformed medicine—and continues to do so today.

Minnesotans, we will get through this—just as we have every other challenge—together.

 

Thank you.

Good evening. Stay safe, Minnesota.

 

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