As COVID-19 continues to climb around Minnesota, residents are now going to feel the pinch. For the second time in less than 10 months, restaurants will transition to take-out service only and youth/high school sports will grind to a halt.
Executive order 20-99 will bring several things to a halt at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. That includes gatherings of multiple households – right on the brink of Thanksgiving.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz used a primetime news conference to announce a “four week” pause in regular activities after medical personnel and hospital administrators said they’re seeing critical care beds occupied at record rates.
In fact, of the more than 1,000 beds available statewide, the Minnesota Department of Health reported less than 75 were now available.
“These are beds needed for accidents, injuries, cancer patients and people who have other things happening beyond COVID,” Walz said. “To say the system is overwhelmed is factual.”
The curb in activities is similar to spring – sports will come to a halt, including high school football playoffs. Restaurants – a major source of outbreaks according to Walz – were told to transition again to takeout service only just days after being told to close at 10 p.m.
“The ground is literally shifting under our feet,” he said. “Things are happening fast.”
The Wednesday, Nov. 18 announcement came just a day after Walz used a press conference to feature medical personnel and recent COVID-19 victims.
That included Elk River’s Nick Zerwas, a former state representative and Republican who did not believe in the virus’ severity at first, but after suffering through the disease caused by the coronavirus earlier this month, now is telling everyone to “take this thing seriously.”
“The speed at which I got sick was terrifying,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe. I was gasping for air after just walking down the hallway.”
Zerwas, who has a birth-defect that impacted his heart, clung to life at a local hospital. He said there was a period where he questioned if he would make it.
Walz said the virus isn’t fair, and doesn’t care who you are.
“It doesn’t matter what party you are or who you are – it doesn’t matter if you believe in it,” Walz said. “We’re asking everyone to do the things to stay health. Heck, wear a mask so you can live two more years and vote against me in the next election. Whatever it takes.”
Thursday’s proclamation, putting the four-week pause into place, can be found here.
“In the near term, we know that this will be a hardship. In the long term, I hope that this significant step will prove beneficial to Minnesotans, our schools, and our economy, and safely bridge the gap to more permanent solutions to this pandemic,” Walz said.
Here’s a look at what is and isn’t impacted by the “pause,” which begins this Friday.