Statewide crisis builds as surge expected


April 3, 2020

As COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to rise, Minnesota officials on Wednesday said they were still working to secure needed testing supplies and get unemployment checks to people as quickly as possible.

And with religious holidays approaching, they again pleaded with Minnesotans to keep their distance to help check the disease’s spread. Gov. Tim Walz said he would decide next week on whether to extend his stay-at-home order beyond April 10.

He did say this year’s open water fishing season will go on, the Governor’s Fishing Opener weekend, an annual celebration that had been set this year for May 7-10 in Otter Tail County, has been canceled.

Walz’s remarks came hours after officials confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Minnesota had reached 17, up five from Tuesday, with 27 people in intensive care and 689 testing positive since the pandemic began, up from 629.

Of those 689 total cases, 342 — about half — have recovered to the point they no longer need to be isolated.

The newest Health Department figures come as state officials continue to seek out and secure sites for regional field hospitals to meet an expected surge of cases.

Walz on Tuesday said the latest modeling suggests COVID-19 hospitalizations could peak in late May in Minnesota as the coronavirus spread continues at a rapid pace. However, the governor said the surge could come two weeks earlier or later and that the state must be ready sooner.

State officials are aiming to add 2,750 hospital beds, 1,000 of which would be in the Twin Cities metro area.

Health leaders continue to emphasize that even people who are healthy and symptom-free can still have and spread the coronavirus to others.

State health commissioner Jan Malcolm Wednesday urged people to avoid gatherings with “anyone outside your household group.” As difficult as it is, she said it would help hold down the spread of coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease.


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