We suspect few Minnesotans jumped for joy at Gov. Walz’s decision last week to extend his stay-at-home order through May 4. Efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are inconvenient, …
We suspect few Minnesotans jumped for joy at Gov. Walz’s decision last week to extend his stay-at-home order through May 4. Efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are inconvenient, are costing jobs, and are having a significant impact to the state’s economy.
But it’s hard to argue with success, and that’s what we’ve experienced so far in Minnesota, where the rate of new infection from the COVID-19 virus is the lowest among the 50 states.
While Minnesotans can all take credit for demonstrating the kind of prudence that’s helped to keep the virus under control here, we also need to credit sound leadership from Gov. Tim Walz as well as from the public health experts at the Department of Health and the University of Minnesota. They took effective action early and, by doing so, demonstrated that the COVID-19 virus, as contagious and dangerous as it is, can be kept within a degree of control.
The timeline of the disease here in Minnesota helps to demonstrate that.
March 7: First confirmed case in the state.
March 13: Walz declares state of emergency.
March 18: Walz closes state’s schools and restaurants and bars.
March 27: Walz issues stay-at-home order.
Essentially, in less than two and a half weeks from the time the state saw its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus, state officials had all but essential workers in the state confined to their homes.
While many other states took these steps, and in some cases before Minnesota, virtually none did so before the disease had already begun to spread widely in their states. By taking prompt action, and by communicating with Minnesotans clearly and with the required urgency, Gov. Walz has made an effective case and call to action during his regular briefings. Minnesotans have clearly understood the governor’s message and the vast majority are complying with his order.
At the same time, state officials have moved quickly to bring funding to health care providers and emergency medical services around Minnesota. As we report this week, numerous hospitals, clinics, and ambulance services right in our area have benefitted from this emergency funding to ensure they’ll have the resources necessary to serve the potential surge in caseloads anticipated as a result of the pandemic. State officials aren’t waiting for the federal government to get its act together. Instead, they are tapping the state’s reserve funds to make this funding available, recognizing that local health care providers can’t take it all on themselves.
The state is also providing well-timed assistance for small businesses hard hit by closures and the stay-at-home order. Those funds, provided through the Department of Employment and Economic Development, are just the right size for many of the smallest businesses in the state, i.e. the ones that will have the toughest time recovering from the economic impact of closures or economic slowdowns. They’re available through local nonprofit lenders like the Entrepreneur Fund and the Northland Foundation and they’re helping hundreds of businesses right in our area. While there are federal programs as well, most small businesses are going to find it far easier and faster to work through the state process. Media reports are already pointing to an avalanche of applications to the federal programs that could easily delay access to funds for many businesses for months.
It all adds up to a coordinated response that is addressing the needs of the public’s health, our health care service sector, and Minnesota businesses. At a time when folks like to complain about government, Minnesota is showing that at least here, in the North Star State, we still know how to “get ‘er done.”