Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he’s “prepared” to issue a shelter in place order, requiring all citizens to stay in their homes to combat coronavirus.
A reporter asked Walz “how seriously” he’s considering such an order at a press briefing, Friday.
“I can tell you this, that at this point in time… am not prepared to make that [order] but I am prepared at some time in the future if it becomes necessary with the data and where we’re at to make that decision,” he said.
He also reminded the media of his previous willingness to take drastic action in the name of coronavirus prevention.
“A week ago Friday, I said we weren’t prepared to close schools. Monday we were. Monday I said ‘we’re not prepared at this time to close businesses but we’re looking at it.'” Walz has since closed said businesses.
Two states, California and Illinois have already issued shelter in place orders. California citizens are only allowed outside to fulfill “essential needs” like grocery shopping and seeking medical care. Chicago residents living under shelter in place aren’t allowed any travel outside their homes, including travel by foot, unless it meets similar “essential” standards, reports NBC Chicago.
Florida and New York have also increased restrictions on citizens going in public, but have not officially called these measures a shelter in place order, according to the Washington Post.
A second reporter pressed the governor on his position regarding shelter in place, asking if there is a “hard threshold” for the number of coronavirus cases he would have to see in Minnesota before shutting down public life.
Walz said that such a threshold does not exist. “Do I wish there were a checklist that said when you hit this, this, this, this, this, now it’s time to do shelter in place– I wish we had that, we don’t.”
He also said his team is trying to keep the graphs showing coronavirus transmission from looking like a “hockey stick,” seeming to indicate that his administration seeks to prevent exponential spread of the virus.
Walz’s briefing included a PowerPoint that showcased Minnesota’s most recent COVID-19 statistics. These briefings are to become a consistent weekday occurrence until the pandemic is quelled, says the governor. (Image source: Facebook livestream/screengrab)
During the conference, Walz also praised President Donald Trump’s institution of Defence Production Act and contemplated how the Mall of America might converted to fight COVID-19.
“I am pleased in the last hour or so with the president’s activation of the Defence Production Act,” he said.
This act allows the government to force private businesses to prioritize government contracts according to The Hill, and was used liberally during World War II to make auto manufacturers produce tanks, Walz said.
The Governor then remarked on “places like the Mall of America now that have a lot of open space and space that could be used to converted it into whatever we would need in an emergency.”
He also praised his own emergency executive order to halt all non-essential surgery and spoke positively about FEMA’s takeover of the COVID-19 response.
“FEMA now, is our lead agency, and this is a new development that came out… we have great confidence in FEMA… We’ve worked with them before,” Walz said.
Heather Mueller, the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education also spoke, indicating that schools around the state are “preparing for the distance learning,” possibly indicating that schools will not resume session on March 27, as planned.