State leaders discuss preparations for new virus, urge residents to take precautions

[anvplayer video=”4851256″ station=”998122″]

Monday, Minnesota’s governor, lawmakers and health officials shared plans about how the state is preparing for the spread of the coronavirus.

It comes in the midst of the rise in COVID-19 cases nationally and internationally. Just this weekend, a second death from the virus was reported in Washington state.

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Health officials are advising Minnesotans follow the same precautions that they might to avoid spreading a cold or the flu: Wash hands thoroughly, cover the mouth when coughing, and stay home when sick.

Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and several legislative leaders shared updates on preparations underway in Minnesota and stressed to Minnesotans that a plan is in place.

Part of that plan includes legislation that will be discussed at the Capitol this week to create a fund to prepare for and treat patients affected by the virus. A task force is also expected to be set up.

Read more about COVID-19 from the Minnesota Department of Health here.

"Preparation is not panic," Walz said. "Preparation is the right thing to do. And I think we would be remiss if we didn’t understand that, as the commissioner said, this will get into Minnesota at some point and preparation is the way that we are able to contain it, that we’re able to keep the numbers lower, and that we’re able to make sure our health care system is prepared to respond to that."

However, leaders stressed the importance of putting the good of the community ahead of oneself, saying that it’s important people stay home when they feel sick.

"We have the benefit in Minnesota of having a strong public health and health care system that works on these issues all the time," Malcolm said, noting that it’s likely Minnesota will start to see cases.

The commissioner also said MDH now has the capability to test for COVID-19 cases.

Watch via the video player below to see the full press conference:

KSTP’s complete COVID-19 coverage