Coronavirus: Gov. Tim Walz orders restart of elective surgeries

They can start as early as next week.
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Gov. Tim Walz has signed an executive order declaring that elective medical procedures can restart from Monday, May 11.

Executive Order 20-51 states that "doctors, dentists, and veterinarians who create a plan to keep patients and healthcare professionals safe may begin offering these procedures, which can treat chronic conditions, prevent and cure disease, and relieve chronic pain."

It will allow hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and clinics to resume procedures that have been suspended since late March, once they've determined which procedures should proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have put together a plan for patient and employee safety.

Facilities must prioritize cases "that pose a high risk to the patient if the procedure is delayed; and must consider the need for pre- and post-operative care, including the availability of related resources and care and associated risks of COVID-19 transmission."

"Minnesota has made significant progress in building up critical resources to combat COVID-19,” said Governor Walz. "We’re proud that this progress will allow our medical professionals to safely resume certain procedures to keep Minnesotans healthy and improve their quality of life."

Elective procedures were suspended to give the state's healthcare system the time to build its capacity to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases, conserve PPE and ventilators, and limit the spread of the virus to vulnerable people.

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Now, Gov. Walz says the state's hospital and ICU capacity is in a healthy enough position to allow hospitals to open up to more procedures.

"Although postponement of non-essential or elective procedures has proven to be an effective means of preserving essential healthcare resources for the COVID-19 response, Minnesota Department of Health guidance recognizes that extended delays in the provision of certain care may pose substantial risks to patients," the governor's office said.

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