Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday afternoon signed an executive order directing Minnesotans who are not deemed “essential services” to stay home for two more weeks, and continue to practice social distancing when they are out.

Essential services include, but are not limited to food and agriculture, law enforcement/public safety and first responders, energy, news media, water and wastewater, critical manufacturing, emergency shelters, health care and child care.

Walz also extended the closure of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations until May 1 at 5 p.m.

In his address, Walz said that the social distancing measures and limiting movements to essential services has helped push out the peak of coronavirus in Minnesota by a few weeks.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 287 cases of coronavirus in Minnesota, including six cases each in Scott and Le Sueur Counties, out of 11,475 tests.

Of the 287 positive tests, there have been one death and 35 cases requiring hospitalization, of which 26 are still in the hospital, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Walz said in his address that 12 individuals are being treated in the ICU, up from seven yesterday.

“Not all cases of COVID-19 are tested, so it is not representative of the total number of people in Minnesota who have or had COVID-19,” the Minnesota Department of Health states.

In his address, Walz said that 85 percent of people who contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms or be asymptomatic, while 15 percent will require hospitalization, including five percent who will require intensive care.

THE NEED FOR MITIGATION

The need for social distancing is necessary to save lives and prevent hospitals, and in particular intensive care units, from being overwhelmed, Walz said.

Had they not made significant changes, the COVID-19 model predicts Minnesota would have reached peak epidemic by May 24, Walz said.

“The terrifying part, and the thing we cannot allow to happen is we would have reached peak ICU capacity in six weeks,” Walz said.

Right now, Minnesota has just 235 ICU beds, Walz said, and without changes Minnesota would have been on a similar trajectory as Italy.

“We would have seen ICU capacity spike to nearly 6,000,” Walz said. “Six-thousand people would have needed ICU knowing that if they didn’t get it, there was a 10-time greater chance that they would die. By the end of April, with no mitigation and the situation we are in, we would have seen thousands not getting care.”

Walz said the measures Minnesotans have taken in the past couple weeks to social distance themselves and stay home have pushed the timeline out a few weeks.

In order to strike a balance between the economy and slowing the spread of the disease, Walz asked Minnesotans to continue sheltering at home and practice social distancing for two more weeks.

“That will buy us enough time that working with the Corps of Engineers, we will be able to transfer our arenas or our stadiums into hospitals,” Walz said. “We will be able to stockpile the Personal Protective Equipment and get the ventilators into the system that raise that critical number of what hospital ICU capacity is while keeping the number of infections low enough that when people go in and we are reaching peak capacity, somebody moves better and goes out and somebody else uses that ventilator.”

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