Gov. Tim Walz issued a stay-at-home order Wednesday that will last two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The mandate, which limits movements outside beyond essential needs, goes into effect Friday at 11:59 p.m. The order also extends previous restrictions ordering the temporary closure of restaurants and bars to dine-in customers, along with other public gathering places, until May 1.
Modeling conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota estimate that more than 70,000 individuals statewide could die from COVID-19 should the state take no action.
The order is intended to increase testing, access to life-saving equipment, and intensive care unit capacity from the current number of 235 beds statewide, the governor said.
“There is no magic around a two-week period,” Walz said. “We have weighed out the variables here [and] we believe at this point in time today, that buys us enough time.”
Activities involving health and safety, relocation, caring for others or outdoor activities are allowed during the stay-at-home period. Essential workers are exempt from the order.
Workers listed as essential include healthcare and public health officials, law enforcement and first responders, child care providers, journalists, and workers in energy, water treatment, critical manufacturing, and food and agriculture.
“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.
In a campus-wide email sent out Wednesday, University President Joan Gabel outlined on-campus staff that will be considered essential or exempt under the Walz's order. This applies to positions that fall under categories listed by the the governor, like healthcare workers and child care providers.
Positions specific to the University that are exempt from the order include staff providing care to research animals, maintaining hazardous or high-value research equipment, information technology staff, and housing and dining services.
Walz remains in quarantine after announcing on Monday that he came into contact with a member of his security detail who tested positive for COVID-19.
The order comes as the Minnesota Department of Health reported 287 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, with 26 currently hospitalized statewide. The number of cases in the U.S. surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday.