Walz to quarantine, delay State of the State address after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

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Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm are quarantining Wednesday after a staff member in the administration tested positive and was in the same room.

"A member of Governor Walz’s staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning after being tested on Tuesday. While Governor Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm were not within six feet of the staff member for more than 15 minutes, they were in the same room as the staff member for the duration of a press conference on Monday," the governor’s office stated on Wednesday.

The governor, lieutenant governor and commissioner will quarantine through March 25, which is 10 days since the time of exposure per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Walz also said he will postpone the State of the State address scheduled for Sunday until he has completed quarantine.

"In the meantime, Governor Walz looks forward to communicating with Minnesotans virtually," the governor’s office noted.

Walz has not yet been vaccinated. Flanagan has received one of two doses of the Moderna vaccine. As for Malcolm, she received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but is still within the 14-day waiting period.

On a Minnesota Department of Health call with reporters on Wednesday, Malcolm said the governor and other members of his administration decided to wait their turns for vaccine by age and other factors rather than jump ahead in line.

"I think we all felt pretty confident it was appropriate to kind of wait until we were eligible by categories just given that much of our work we can do virtually," Malcolm said.

Walz later tweeted a video explaining his decision to quarantine.

"One of my hard-working staffers tested positive for COVID, which means all of us will go into quarantine now for 10 days," he said. "We do this to make sure we not only protect ourselves and our families but everyone else. This is how you beat COVID."

Last April, the governor delivered his State of the State address while in quarantine at the Governor’s Residence. This year he will wait until he’s out of quarantine for an address he had planned to deliver from Mankato.