Minnesota First Lady Gwen Walz opens up about COVID-19 decisions, aftermath of George Floyd's death

Jay Kolls
Updated: July 27, 2020 10:20 PM
Created: July 27, 2020 06:58 PM

Minnesota First Lady Gwen Walz told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she has worked closely with husband, Governor Tim Walz, in what are considered monumental decisions in the state's history regarding COVID-19 and the aftermath of George Floyd's death.

"This was historical in nature, and perhaps there had never been a decision like this in Minnesota before," said Walz. "The stay-at-home order was a hard decision and we knew it was emotional, and thinking back on it now it still feels really emotional to me."


Walz said she and the governor took turns sleeping at night at the Governor's Residence in St. Paul, but admitted there were many nights when neither one of them slept as the governor made tough choices about the state's economy.

Full KSTP COVID-19 coverage

"This was all of Minnesota, and you knew the decision that you were making was the best and right decision," Walz said.  "But you also knew it was very painful and it was going to take a long time for Minnesota and maybe the whole country to recover."

When word made its way to the Governor's Residence that George Floyd had been killed while being placed under arrest by Minneapolis police, Walz said she and her husband felt "just absolute grief."

Full KSTP George Floyd coverage

"With COVID-19, the entire state was watching what Tim did," said Ms. Walz. "But with Mr. Floyd's death, it was the entire country and the whole world looking at and watching what we did here in Minnesota in response to that."

"Again we had more sleepless nights during the riots," Walz said. "I could smell the burning tires, and that was a very real thing. I kept the windows open as long as I could because I felt like that was such a touchstone of what was happening."

Through it all, Walz said she and the governor prayed, leaned on family and friends and were lifted up by the generous support of Minnesotans along the way.

"There have been, I think, two different times when we just stopped and shed some tears," Walz said.  "He doesn't throw himself down on the bed and sob, but there have been tears." 

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