Coronavirus Daily Briefing: Walz signs orders to suspend evictions, support small businesses

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Gov. Tim Walz on Monday signed four more executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The orders suspend evictions during the peacetime emergency, establish peacetime emergency loans for small businesses, direct non-hospital entities to conduct an inventory of personal protective equipment and clarify that an earlier order on elective surgeries applies to veterinarians, too.

It comes on the day the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed 66 new cases in the state, raising the total number of cases to 235. In an afternoon call, state officials said 21 patients have been hospitalized in Minnesota but 12 remained in hospitals as of Monday afternoon. Of those, five patients were in intensive care.

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State officials said the emergency loans will help any business in Minnesota that has been shut down. While officials asked the public to be patient as they expect to process an influx of requests, they said checks are expected to start being sent out this week. You can find more information on the program here.

Officials also noted that unemployment insurance applications continue to rise, with more than 123,000 already submitted in the state as of Monday afternoon.

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Walz said he’s taking a "hard look" at a shelter-in-place order, which a few states have already done. However, as of Monday, Walz said he wasn’t ready to go to those lengths.

COVID-19 cases total 235 in Minnesota with 66 new cases

The governor added that it’s likely closings for schools and businesses, such as bars and restaurants that have already been ordered to close, will be extended past March 27th. As with shelter-in-place, Walz said he’s not yet considering closing schools for the rest of the year but as the situation evolves that may become necessary.

Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan also announced a revised supplemental budget on Monday, calling for an additional $356 million to be put toward the state’s COVID-19 response.

Their earlier proposal recommended paying back $491 million to the budget reserve in preparation for the emergency. The revised proposal would leave $811 million in reserve.