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Coronavirus: Gov. Walz orders hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, procedures

It goes into effect Monday evening.

Gov. Tim Walz has announced his latest executive order in the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, ordering healthcare providers to postpone elective surgeries and procedures.

Executive order 20-09 orders hospitals and clinics to push back elective treatments, "including non-emergent elective dental procedures, to focus health care capacity and equipment on responding to COVID-19 cases and other emergencies."

This, he says, complies with guidance from the CDC as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to ensure that frontline workers are focusing on COVID-19 and other emergency cases, as well as to conserve resources and reduce contact between patients and providers.

"The greatest risk we face during the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming our health care systems and limiting their ability to respond to emerging cases," said Gov. Walz. 

"This executive order keeps more health care resources open and prioritizes life-saving intervention for COVID-19 patients and other emergency care."

Elective surgeries and procedures will be "postponed indefinitely" beginning 5 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 23.

"The executive order clarifies that a non-essential surgery or procedure is defined as a surgery or procedure that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient. Surgeries and procedures that prevent loss of life, permanent dysfunction of an organ or extremity, or risk of metastasis or progression of staging for non-COVID-19 patients should not be postponed under this order."

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan says the governor's office continues to urge Minnesotans to stay home if they're sick and practice social distancing if not experiencing symptoms.

"But if you do get sick enough to require hospital intervention, we want health care providers to have the resources and space to provide the care you need," she added.

On Tuesday, M Health Fairview announced it would be transforming Bethesda Hospital into a facility specifically for patients with COVID-19.

Minnesota currently has 89 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the actual number is believed to be much higher, as the state doesn't have enough tests to ascertain the actual figure.

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