Coronavirus Daily Briefing: Gov. Walz says closure of schools, bars and restaurants likely to continue

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During a daily press briefing, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the closure of schools, bars and restaurants would likely continue past the Friday deadline he had set earlier.

Walz issued orders closing schools, as well as bars and restaurants, in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Walz did not go as far as issuing a shelter in place order, but he says it remains an option.

"If I believed shutting down and keeping everybody in their house by order today would do that immediately then that is the position we should take," Walz said Tuesday. "But the modeling shows there may be a smarter and a more targeted way. But there is no doubt this is going to take some time. It’s going to be well beyond Easter. I don’t think it’s going to do any good to pretend that it’s not."

The governor said the decision on extending the closures of schools, bars and restaurants would be made on a day-to-day basis and based on a review of data. He also could extend closures to other businesses without a full "shelter-in-place" order.

So far he’s encouraged by how "social distancing" is working in Minnesota.

"I can tell you that the decisions we made right now we can see in the data have slowed the infection rate pushed out the peak and have pushed out the peak to ICU capacity," he said. "What we have done to this point is working."

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As of Tuesday, Minnesota reported a total of 262 lab-confirmed cases.

However, Walz and state health officials said the numbers are likely undercounted because not all cases are being tested.

"As we keep reinforcing, we know there are more cases in Minnesota and that we should all be acting with the assumption the virus is circulating in our communities," Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.