Continuing the stay-at-home order was not a decision taken lightly by Governor Walz. The decision is backed up by a significant amount of data showing that the order has made a tremendous difference in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. This mitigation has reduced face-to-face contact by 80% and is saving lives as a result.
These mitigation efforts, like social distancing and staying home, buy our health care system and caregivers time to continue their life-saving work. While the governor’s decision to keep schools, restaurants, bars, and other public gathering spaces closed has been difficult for families and businesses, these measures are proving to be effective in Minnesota, and the continuation will save lives. Minnesota has the lowest rate of cases per capita in the country. That means we are doing better than every other state in controlling the spread of this virus. It’s working because we are listening to public health professionals and doing our part as average citizens and as legislators in following their recommendation.
We’ve done a great job with social distancing and lowered the curve, but we are not at the peak of the pandemic. If social distancing measures are relaxed, it is likely we will see increased death tolls, increased burden for hospitals and health care providers, and increased economic costs. As Governor Walz said this earlier this week, “It’s not as easy as just opening everything at once. Running out of patience here might not just endanger you; it might endanger your neighbor or someone else.”
The sacrifices every Minnesotan has been asked to make are hard, but they are working. If we move too quickly, this sacrifice will be jeopardized, and people will be at unnecessary risk. Staying at home has cost us a lot, but it has bought our public health care network invaluable time in building out its ability to prepare. We know it’s coming, but we’ve pushed out the peak, saving lives.
Minnesota must balance the data from science and health experts in keeping our citizens healthy with making sure businesses are protected and come out of this as strong as possible. We recognize that Minnesota’s small businesses are the foundation of our state’s economy, and the Senate DFL is committed to ensuring small business owners and employees across the state have the supports they need during this time of uncertainty and temporary closures. We know there is more to do to help our small businesses, but we must make sure that when they reopen, customers can be there without fear.
That is why it is unfortunate some politicians are making this a partisan issue. It’s a dangerous and ill-advised assertion to say Minnesota should relax the orders and open up the state to business as usual while people are dying and put more people at risk. Minnesotans need to follow the valid modeling and science, stay the course, and refute calls to lift the order based on opinions, sentiments, and partisan politics.