ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s stay-at-home order will lapse Sunday, but some restrictions will remain in place as the state continues its effort to stave off the coronavirus.
Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday, May 13, announced he would not extend the state’s stay-at-home order but said directives limiting certain business sectors and social gatherings would remain in place beyond Sunday, May 17. The governor also announced that he would extend the state’s peacetime emergency, freeing him up to issue additional executive actions to address COVID-19.
In a brief video address, Walz said he planned to keep schools, restaurants, bars, salons, gyms and theaters closed, but would allow customer-facing retailers to reopen at 50% capacity beginning Monday.
And the state would issue guidance allowing Minnesotans to gather in groups of 10 or fewer with adequate social distancing. Outlines for how gyms, salons, bowling alleys, restaurants and other businesses could be issued in early June, he said.
The update came hours after the Minnesota Department of Health reported that in total, 638 had died from the illness and its complications, 24 more than a day prior. The state also noted for the first time that nine reported deaths were likely COVID-19 related, but they did not record COVID-19 test results for those individuals.
The state has reported that 122,035 Minnesotans have been tested for the illness and 12,917 had been confirmed positive for COVID-19, up 431 from a day prior. And 494 were hospitalized Wednesday, with 199 in intensive care. Another 8,787 had been allowed to exit isolation after becoming sick with COVID-19.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has overturned Wisconsin's "Safer at Home" order, striking down one of the primary tools Gov. Tony Evers' administration has used in its effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Justices ruled Wednesday that Evers' administration exceeded its authority when state Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm issued the "Safer at Home" extension that was scheduled to run until Tuesday, May 26.
Under the court's ruling, Evers' administration could issue new stay-at-home orders, but it would need the approval of the Legislature's rulemaking committee, which is run by Republicans.
Statewide reported cases of COVID-19 increased by 291 on Wednesday. To date, 421 people have died from the disease in Wisconsin. Eighteen percent of the state's 10,902 positive cases have required hospitalizations.
The state announced Wednesday the deaths of two more Cass County women from COVID-19.
Forty North Dakotans, including 31 residents of Cass County, have now died from the illness that has claimed more than 83,000 lives nationwide. Department of Health spokeswoman Nicole Peske said 29 of the deaths have come in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
The department also confirmed 76 new cases of COVID-19 on 1,113 tests Wednesday.
The total number of positive tests for the virus in the state is at 1,647, but 969 people have recovered from the illness, including 92 announced Wednesday. There are 37 residents hospitalized with the illness, down one from Tuesday.
Sixty-nine of the new cases Wednesday came from Cass County, which encompasses Fargo and West Fargo. The county now has 935 known cases, but the department reports that 528 residents have recovered after previously testing positive.
Cass County accounts for nearly 60% of the active COVID-19 cases but only about 22% of the total tests done in North Dakota. Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday half of the COVID-19 testing in North Dakota should be done in Cass County and that the state aims to close the testing disparity in the county this week, but the gap has not closed at all so far.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said he'd take Gov. Kristi Noem's proposed plan to remove all health checkpoints from U.S. or state highways on tribal lands into consideration, days after the governor threatened legal action for "interfering with or regulating traffic on U.S. and state highways."
In addition to removing those checkpoints, Noem’s proposed plan also noted that the state would be open to tribal checkpoints on Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal roads so long as the tribe makes reasonable tribal checkpoint accommodations that would permit emergency services, delivery of food, energy and medical supplies, and access to private property within the reservation.
“We appreciate your concern about preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and our taking action for the good of all people on the reservation,” Frazier wrote. “We will take your three part-complaint into consideration. In the meantime, please forward any complaints you have received regarding the operation of our health safety checkpoints to the CRST COVID-19 Command Center.”
The state has reached 3,732 total confirmed positive cases, up 69 from Tuesday. A total of 79 people in South Dakota are hospitalized for COVID-19, while the statewide death count remained at 39 people.
Around the region
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum expressed gratitude to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during his Wednesday visit to the White House. Like every other state, North Dakota has received an unprecedented amount of federal funding during the pandemic, including $1.25 billion via the CARES Act. "We appreciate the opportunity to share our coronavirus successes and challenges with President Trump, whose partnership has been instrumental to our whole-of-government approach to saving lives and livelihoods during this pandemic," Burgum said in a press release.
Secretary of State Steve Simon is calling on all eligible Minnesota voters to apply for their absentee ballots using the online absentee ballot request tool, which opened Wednesday. The tool allows registered voters to request their ballot be sent to them by mail for the Aug. 11 statewide primary and the Nov. 3 general election.
The latest updating of modeling created to inform Walz's decision making around COVID-19 believes that even under the best circumstances, the state will reach 750 deaths a day at the first peak of the coronavirus pandemic this summer. The model now states that Minnesota could lose 29,000 persons to coronavirus during a 12-month period without an extension of the stay-at-home order.
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