‘Peacetime state of emergency’ declared in Minnesota amid COVID-19 concerns
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In light of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, Minnesota is entering into a peacetime state of emergency.
Gov. Tim Walz made the announcement about the state of emergency, which will last for five days, on Friday.
State leaders will have the option to extend the state of emergency for another 30 days. After 35 days, the legislature would be required to approve another extension.
In the signed executive order, Walz states, "We must continue to take this pandemic seriously, and there are sensible steps that Minnesotans and our state government can take to protect all Minnesotans by slowing the spread of COVID-19, prioritizing our healthcare resources, and safeguarding at-risk communities."
Walz announced the creation of several legislative proposals, including a COVID-19 emergency fund. That fund would expand access to testing and paid leave for employees who must stay at home.
Walz also announced pushing back the April 15 tax deadline in the state is under consideration.
As part of the peacetime state of emergency, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom proposed community mitigation guidance and strategies.
She advised against gatherings of more than 250 people. This would apply to shopping malls, office buildings and places of worship. She recommended practicing "social distancing," by placing at least six feet of space between individuals.
Malcolm is not recommending closing all state schools, currently.
"Evidence of other areas of our country hit by COVID-19, show early or short-term to medium closures just don’t have much impact on the spread of COVID-19," Malcolm said.
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But Walz, a former school teacher, knows social distancing isn’t possible in a classroom. He said the community should prepare for distance learning if later closures are ordered.
"I would encourage Minnesotans who are listening to prepare for that and do what you can do so we can continue to educate our children," the governor said.