Minnesota’s coronavirus status (March 25, 2020)
Walz orders shelter in place
The Minnesota Department of Health announced 25 new positive cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, March 25, for a total of 287 confirmed cases across the state and one death. Cases range from six months to 94 years old. Approximately 6,365 patients have been tested at the MDH Public Health Lab since Jan. 20, 2020, and approximately 5,110 have been tested at external laboratories.
Gov. Tim Walz doubled down today on his administration’s coronavirus response with a two-week stay-at-home order as he asked Minnesotans not to leave their homes unless absolutely needed.
The most significant measure to date is meant to build off previous novel coronavirus-related executive orders to keep social distancing and continue with the closure of bars, restaurants and other public spaces. The order also allows the Minnesota Department of Education to implement a distant learning period starting March 30 and ending May 4.
“We’re asking you, because it’s going to take coordination and cooperation, stay home,” Walz said to Minnesotans Wednesday via livestream as he continues with self-quarantine.
The stay-at-home order does not mean everybody in the state of Minnesota will be reduced to their homes indefinitely, but for at least two weeks, it is meant to be a strict action to further encourage extreme social distancing and keep homeowners in place as much as possible while also suspending large gatherings.
While still practicing social distancing, Walz listed various reasons that Minnesotans can still leave their homes: health and safety activities, outdoor activities, retrieving necessary supplies and services, essential and interstate travel, care of others, displacement and relocation to ensure safety.
“If I put on shelter-in-place indefinitely, what that would do is buy time, but it would not reduce the infection rates that would eventually be coming,” Walz said.
He said the goal at this point is to buy time to increase supplies and intensive care unit beds available in the state, not necessarily to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Walz presented data that showed the reduction in person-to-person contact by percentage for varying levels of intervention. Through significant mitigation, a level of intervention that includes shelter-at-home, person-to-person contact is reduced by 80%. Followed by physical distancing, which Walz said Minnesotans have been excelling in compared to other states, it creates a reduction of 50%, which if then followed by physical distancing, creates a reduction of 70%.
The list of essential workers exempt from the stay-at-home order includes employees in the fields of public health, law enforcement and public safety, childcare, food and agriculture, news media, water and wastewater, energy and critical manufacturing. Though not a comprehensive list, Walz said these are workers who provide critical services to the people of Minnesota, but also acknowledged other fields not considered essential services but are still vital to Minnesota’s economy.
“The attempt here is to strike a proper balance of making sure that our economy can function, we protect the most vulnerable, we slow the rate to buy us time and build out our capacity to deal with this,” Walz said.
Significant mitigation measures produce more favorable outcomes to extend the amount of time it takes to reach the peak of the epidemic in Minnesota. Through the actions Walz signed today, which are effective Friday at 11:59 p.m., the time to peak epidemic extends to 14 weeks as opposed to nine weeks if no mitigation actions were taken.
If the action is successful and extends peak infection rates out to 14 weeks, it will give the state government time to build out hospital capacity, increase testing and bolster the state’s supply of life-saving equipment, like ventilators and personal protective equipment.
“If you get sick and if you need hospitalization and if you need an (intensive care unit bed) and if that ICU is available and with a ventilator and all the things you need, you have a 10 times greater chance of surviving this,” Walz said, emphasizing the importance of ensuring the state does not reach maximum ICU capacity.
Minnesota currently has 235 ICU beds available, but Walz said with more time, the state can work to convert gyms, hotels and stadiums into ICU facilities.
There are currently approximately 26 hospitalizations related to the coronavirus.
“I’m asking for your patience, your cooperation and your understanding,” Walz said. “Minnesota is as well prepared as any state to handle this.”
Counties with cases include (and number of confirmed cases*):
- Anoka (7)
- Benton (1)
- Big Stone (1)
- Blue Earth (5)
- Carver (8)
- Cass (1)
- Chisago (2)
- Clay (3)
- Dakota (21)
- Dodge (3)
- Fillmore (3)
- Hennepin (111)
- Martin (10)
- Mower (6)
- Nicollet (3)
- Olmsted (21)
- Ramsey (27)
- Renville (1)
- Rice (2)
- Scott (6)
- Sherburne (1)
- St. Louis (3)
- Stearns (5)
- Steele (5)
- Wabasha (3)
- Waseca (1)
- Washington (13)
- Winona (2)
- Wright (3)