Gov. Tim Walz says he'll be extending Minnesota's peacetime emergency for a further 30 days, automatically sparking a 5th Special Session of the Legislature this year.
Walz announced Wednesday that he will convene a Special Session this coming Monday, Oct. 12, as he extends the state's COVID-19 peacetime emergency.
The extension of the emergency will almost certainly be opposed in the GOP-led Senate, but will likely be extended nonetheless thanks to the DFL-led House.
It comes as Minnesota enters the fall and winter months, where there are concerns that cases will spike as more people stay indoors, as well as things being complicated by the onset of flu season.
Compared to the lows seen in July and August, Minnesota has recently experienced an uptick in deaths from COVID-19, as well as a spike in hospitalizations and ICU use, though this has dipped over the past week.
However, its case positivity rate has continued to hover around the 5% mark, suggesting Minnesotans are showing more discipline at observing safety measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and keeping gatherings small compared to those in neighboring states.
South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa are seeing significant surges in cases, ranking 1st, 3rd and 4th respectively nationally for positivity rates over the past week, per John Hopkins University.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is re-introducing some lockdown restrictions on Thursday after COVID-19 hospitalizations more than doubled over the past months, with ICUs at a handful of hospitals nearing capacity. This will limit many public indoor spaces to 25% of their occupancy limits, which includes restaurants, bars and non-essential retail stores.
Minnesota's public indoor spaces have been operating at 50% capacity since Gov. Walz's Stay at Home order ended on June 10, though some restaurants and bars are now closing during the winter months due to the restriction and the customary downturn in business seen during the winter.
On Wednesday, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci called on states to implement COVID-19 restrictions, saying deaths in the U.S. could reach as high as 400,000 "if we don't do what we need to do" this fall and winter.
"If we had everyone have universal use of masks, distancing, no crowds, outdoors, wash hands, you wouldn't see the surges we're seeing. It occurs because of the lack of implementation of simple public health measures. It's so frustrating, because it's not rocket science."