On Thursday, Governor Walz issued a two-week extension of the state’s stay at home order through May 18th. The order would have expired on Monday, May 4th. That executive order can be found here.
The governor made some minor adjustments allowing additional retail businesses to move from non-essential closed to open for curbside pick-up only. The governor suggests that will allow up to 30,000 Minnesotans to go back to work.
I continue to receive calls and emails from our smaller businesses asking for relief from the emergency measures with assurances they have well thought out plans ready to go to ensure customer safety. Main Street has been hammered unfairly by closure or being relegated to curb-side sales only, while larger retail competitors remain unrestricted and fully open. My legislative colleagues and I representing rural Minnesota will continue to the press the case for more flexibility.
Earlier in the week, I joined over 70 concerned members from both the Minnesota House and Senate in a letter encouraging the governor to reconsider the stringent restrictions on what his administration considers elective medical procedures.
This is another area that many of you have contacted about with concerns that what might be an elective today can easily transition to an emergency room visit with serious consequences. Those concerns have been raised by our medical professionals in the community, as well as their patients.
I was pleased to learn that the governor is now moving toward providing more flexibility in this area and will be making some changes soon. The Minnesota Department of Health has assembled draft guidance that will help inform the next steps. The draft guidance and public comment survey can be accessed here.
Our hospitals have made good use of the many weeks that were gained with the shut-down. They were able to stock up on supplies including, mask, gloves, gowns and ventilators. They have reconfigured their facilities to safely handle COVID-19 treatments and put in place arrangements to transfer overflow cases if that becomes necessary.
It is clearly time for St. Paul to get out from between our doctors and their patients and allow them to make these very important decisions. We are making progress, not as fast many would like but, nevertheless, we are moving in the right direction. Please stay safe and continue to practice social distancing.