STATEWIDE- While the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota jumped to 115 on Friday, with 15 linked to community spread, Gov. Tim Walz did not impose any new closures or restrictions during an …
STATEWIDE- While the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota jumped to 115 on Friday, with 15 linked to community spread, Gov. Tim Walz did not impose any new closures or restrictions during a Friday afternoon news conference.
Calling the past week “confusing and disruptive,” Walz said additional restrictions could be coming as state leaders collect and analyze more data about how to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’re trying to balance this in real time and balance this with the employers out there,” Walz said.
Infectious disease epidemiology department director Kristen Ehresmann emphasized that people should practice social distancing and stay at home when sick, as everyone is at risk for exposure.
“We have evidence of comm transmission in Minnesota,” Ehresmann said. “This means Covid-19 is circulating in all our communities.”
The state received more than 95,000 applications for unemployment insurance this week after it was opened to all employees affected by COVID-19-related closures. Nearly 37,000 of those applicants were restaurant and bar employees, a department representative said. The previous record for new unemployment insurance claims in a week was 18,000.
A new call center with 50 additional employees is being established to deal with the volume and reduce wait times. People were strongly encouraged to use the unemployment insurance website, uimn.org, to apply as opposed to calling.
Walz noted the attorney general has been receiving complaints of price gouging, citing an example of a price of $60 for hand sanitizer. While Minnesota does not have a law preventing price gouging, the state attorney general can take some actions on complaints. While Walz mentioned an executive order prohibiting the practice during peacetime emergency, no such order had been posted to the list of orders on the governor’s web page as of mid-afternoon.
A bill has been introduced in the legislature to prohibit price gouging, but the legislature is currently in recess.
Additional actions already taken that Walz reviewed during the news conference included:
In response to questioning Walz acknowledged that orders to shelter-in-place and to mandate mall closings are under consideration, and that he is prepared to impose those actions sometime in the future if they are determined to be necessary to halt the spread of the virus.