Created: March 25, 2020 10:40 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an executive "stay-at-home" order that starts Friday at 11:59 p.m. until April 10. The order bans Minnesotans from leaving their homes unless it's necessary to travel.
Essential activities like going to the grocery store, filling up gas, or going to the doctor are allowed. Going outside to exercise or for dog walking is permitted as long as people stay 6 feet apart.
Workers deemed essential like healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, first responders, and childcare providers are exempt. Employees in public transportation and public works, along with water, waste and energy workers will not be forced to stay home.
Gov. Walz said it's too late to flatten the curve right now but the current measures will give the state more time to add intensive care units before the virus gets worse. He said that will allow Minnesota to meet PPE (personal protective equipment) demands and permit testing.
The methods will also provide time to develop existing treatments and add new ones, Walz said.
The governor said drastic measures are needed or ICUs statewide will be at capacity (235 beds) in six weeks, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota.
The model suggests peak infection would take place in 14 weeks and ICU capacity at 11 weeks if social distancing and mitigation practices continue.
"When someone can't get that ICU care, we see the death rates skyrocket," Walz said referring to Italy. Walz said he plans to use arenas and stadiums as additional ICU units.
Violating the order could result in a misdemeanor but Walz said he prefers to educate the public instead.
"It is not our desire to write someone a ticket, it's our desire to protect the public's help," Walz said.
While a shelter-in-place, which would add more restricting measures, would buy time, Walz said data suggests it wouldn't reduce infection rates and once lifted, hospitals would be overrun again.
"The attempt here is to strike a proper balance of making sure our economy can function, we protect the most vulnerable, we slow the rate to buy us time, and build out our capacity to deal with this," Walz said.
The governor said the model forecasts 74,000 Minnesota will die from COVID-19 if no action is taken to mitigate the outbreak.
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