During a Monday press conference, Gov. Tim Walz denied having any specific plans in place for another shutdown, but said he wouldn’t “close the door” on the possibility in the event that the situation gets “really bad.”
State Rep. Mary Franson recently asked Gov. Walz for internal emails regarding his post-election pandemic plans, citing “rumors” and “gossip” about another shelter-in-place order planned for after Election Day.
Minnesota is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 584 patients hospitalized as of Monday and another 163 in an ICU, according to the University of Minnesota.
Franson submitted a data practices request with the governor’s office Friday, asking for “emails, memoranda or other electronic communication” related to “consideration of or planning for new pandemic-related restrictions on commerce or civic life.”
The Alexandria Republican said small businesses, workers, educators and parents “remain in the dark” about how the Walz administration “will handle the next few months.”
“Aside from the constantly evolving amount and type of information provided on COVID-19 cases, perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the state’s response is the inconsistency based on circumstance,” she said in a letter to Walz.
There’s been a lot of rumors/gossip about another Walz Shutdown planned for after the election. Today, my office sent a data request for information. pic.twitter.com/AvsbkYIwP0
— Tim Walz is leading us into poverty (@RepMaryFranson) October 23, 2020
“Certain politicians can bump elbows, maskless and indoors, but a small restaurant is threatened with punitive fines for one worker wearing the wrong type of mask. People of faith are limited from worshipping or gathering to bury their dead, but hundreds can gather in close contact for a secular vigil to mourn Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Franson continued.
She was referring to a candlelight vigil held in September in remembrance of Ginsburg, which was reportedly attended by several hundred, including Gov. Walz and his wife.
Franson said these inconsistencies undermine the public’s “faith in the state’s response.”
“There is great concern about how your administration is preparing for future action and on what basis that action will be made. We hear dire warnings of deadly Thanksgiving feasts, even as hospitalization and fatality data reported by the state becomes murkier,” she said in her letter. “The more difficult the state makes it to measure change across time, the more skeptical people become of government intervention.”
She also asked the Walz administration for responses to four questions, including:
- What are the specific metrics used by the administration to decide whether further restrictions are necessary?
- How much notice will be given to small business owners and consumers prior to the imposition of further restrictions?
- As of today, what is the soonest the administration would impose new restrictions on the engagement of commerce, civic activity and social life in Minnesota?
- How does the administration determine that secular vigils like the Ruth Bader Ginsburg gathering do not present a health risk but a burial service for an elderly loved one who died of loneliness while locked in a nursing home under the state’s order does present a health risk?
Walz said “there has been no discussion” about shutting down schools statewide or reclosing bars and restaurants after the election.
“None of that is correct. None of those things have been discussed,” he said during the Monday press conference, noting that “our toolbox is always available.”
“We’ve got a school opening plan that is working and the dials are being turned so that’s not true,” he added. Walz said he believes “a national mask mandate would probably have more of an impact” than a shelter-in-place order.