Gov. Tim Walz extends ‘stay-at-home’ executive order

The order, which was set to expire Friday at 5 p.m., will now last until May 4 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Newly-elected Governor of Minnesota Tim Walz addresses the crowd at the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel in Saint Paul on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Will Tooke

Newly-elected Governor of Minnesota Tim Walz addresses the crowd at the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel in Saint Paul on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Mohamed Ibrahim

Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday the extension of the stay-at-home executive order issued nearly two weeks ago until May 4 to further curb the spread of the coronavirus.

At a press conference Wednesday, Walz said the extension includes the continued closure of bars, restaurants and other public accommodation areas, but allows owners to return to their businesses to manage their inventory. The governor instituted the stay-at-home order on March 27, allowing only essential workers and businesses to remain in operation.

“We cannot rest easy — this thing can explode overnight if you don’t take the proper precautions,” Walz said. “The move to go to social distancing, the move to go early, has kept us relatively flat.”

Walz said the extension is designed to prepare the state’s healthcare facilities and push the anticipated peak in COVID-19 cases to July. The extended order will allow state officials to increase hospital capacity, secure ventilators and personal protective equipment, increase testing, development treatments, and protect communities most at risk, he said.

The governor said Minnesota will need a minimum of 3,000 intensive care unit beds starting in May and through to July to prevent overflowing of hospitals when the state hits its projected peak in cases. The state has ventilators on backorder due to a federal law requiring private companies to sell ventilators to the federal government first, he said.

Based on model data from the state’s Department of Health and the University of Minnesota, mitigation efforts including the stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines have been successful in slowing the spread of the virus. But while Minnesota has been one of the most successful states in “flattening the curve,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said complacency can undermine those efforts.

“We have made some progress [and] it’s important that we sustain it,” Malcolm said. “But we do know that the peak is still going to come, we know there’s a lot of disease in our state that has yet to show up in our case counts and unfortunately in the rates of death in Minnesota.”

As of Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health has reported 1,154 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state. Patients currently hospitalized number 135, and 39 have died from the disease.

The number of cases nationwide has surpassed 400,000 with more than 14,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.