Gov. Tim Walz has announced another extension to Minnesota's COVID-19 peacetime emergency, which grants him emergency powers to respond to the pandemic.
Minnesota is one of 49 out of 50 U.S. states that remain in a peacetime emergency, and while hospitalizations and deaths have been trending downwards, there has been a small rise in positive cases in recent weeks, while nationally there has been a spike in cases.
"COVID-19 continues to present an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge to our state,” said Governor Walz, who says having a peacetime emergency in place allows the state to respond more quickly to changing situations compared to if the response was being monitored via the Legislature.
"The peacetime emergency has provided us tools to save lives and mitigate the devastating impacts of this pandemic. As cases skyrocket in other states, we can’t let our guard down now."
The emergency order was immediately challenged by the GOP-controlled Minnesota Senate, which voted to end the emergency in a vote Monday.
"Yes there is a pandemic, but no, this is no longer an emergency," Gazelka said on Monday. "As time has gone on, we have organized, we have everything in place."
The move to block the peacetime emergency extension will blocked by the Democratic-controlled House, with Senate DFLers who opposed the motion accusing GOPers of sticking their heads in the sand over COVID-19, per MPR News.
While the COVID-19 situation in Minnesota has improved since the heights of mid-May, there remains concern that there will be another spike in cases as seen in other states such as Florida and Texas – where multiple hospitals are reaching capacity, albeit having reopened more extensively than Minnesota.
Minnesota is also approaching a crucial decision on whether schools will be allowed to reopen in the fall.
"The emergency is not over," said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.
"Minnesotans are relying on us to respond in real time to a virus that we are still learning more about. We cannot end necessary protections that are saving lives and keeping people safe.”