Gov. Tim Walz, who currently is in self-quarantine for fourteen days after learning he was in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, signed four more executive orders today.
Gov. Walz briefed media this afternoon at 2 p.m., and while he did not issue an anticipated “shelter-in-place” order like Wisconsin has, he did address the question to media.
“I’m not ready to make that decision, but very soon could be,” he said in the conference.
Gov. Walz said they are looking at models and projections to determine if such a measure would even make a difference, and said he would like to confirm that the measures last week, such as closing restaurants, salons and bars as well as schools, are slowing the spread of novel coronavirus.
“We’re changing social contact, trying to use the best data we have, and there has not been total agreement around some of these decisions,” said Walz. “What we’ve done, has it worked? The modeling will show if we need move to a more restrictive order.”
The four executive orders include one that halts the eviction of tenants whose incomes have been affected by last week’s executive orders, such as restaurant and salon workers. Those who are able to pay rent are encouraged to do so.
Another executive order provides immediate assistance to small business owners. Small business owners are eligible for emergency relief, but the federal program takes time, and, according to Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Developer Commissioner Steve Grove, this order addresses a shortfall and will provide 100 percent forgivable loans at a zero percent interest rate immediately.
The small business assistance order also allows cities and counties to use their discretion in distributing their revolving loan funds as they see fit in addressing the COVID-19 crisis.
The third executive order signed today mandates that all non-hospital entities who use personal protective equipment provide the state an inventory of masks and other PPE. Gov. Walz said that if needed, these entities would have to provide their PPE to hospitals to address the supply concern.
The fourth executive order clarifies a previous executive order concerning elective surgeries, and includes veterinary elective surgeries in the mandate to postpone until further notice.
Minnesota Department of Health commissioner Jan Malcolm said today there have been 21 patients hospitalized for complications of COVID-19. Twelve of those are currently hospitalized, five are in intensive care and the remaining four have either recovered or are recovering at home.
To date, there are 265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, with one death. Officials say the number could be significantly higher, especially since there is evidence of the virus spreading by community transmission.
The Minnesota National Guard is currently on the move, distributing supplies from a strategic stockpile at Fort Ripley.
Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management John Kelly said that Minnesotans have overwhelmingly offered to help in these trying times, and the department is preparing a resource hub to connect those who need help to those that are offering it.
“Minnesotans want to help each other,” said Kelly. “We need a good system to capture all those offers, and coordinate those donations.”
Minnesota’s tax deadline, in line with the federal tax deadline, has been extended to July 15, with no penalties for those who wait until then.