Wednesday will be another pivotal day in the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, with Gov. Tim Walz making an announcement on the state's peacetime emergency and Stay at Home order.
In an unusual move, the governor will speak in a press conference not at the usual time of 2 p.m., but in a short, televised address at 6 p.m., which will be followed by a 6:45 p.m. media call.
It is then that he will announce his decision on whether to extend Minnesota's Stay at Home order, which expires on Monday, and the state's peacetime emergency that expires today.
The Stay at Home order sets out the state's social distancing guidelines, and contains for businesses and the extent to which they're allowed to open. Running alongside this order is the ongoing shutdown of dine-in service at restaurants and bars, which also expires Monday.
The peacetime emergency meanwhile grants Gov. Walz emergency powers, which he has used dozens of times since the virus arrived in Minnesota, but for which he has seen increasing pushback in recent days from Republican lawmakers.
Leading lawmakers in the Legislature, including DFL House Majority Leader Melissa Hortman, widely believe that Walz will be extending both.
Before the announcement, the Minnesota Department of Health will at 11 a.m. give members of the media the first look at its updated models for the coronavirus outbreak in Minnesota.
The most recent update – issued on April 10 – presented a series of scenarios that suggested the total number of deaths based on its current course could be anything between 9,000 and 36,000 throughout the predicted 18-month course of COVID-19.
These numbers had been revised down significantly from the first model presented in March, and it's likely that they will be again considering the state's social distancing efforts have resulted in a rising – but relatively stable – number of deaths and hospitalizations.
Health officials have warned through that Minnesota is still not at its peak in terms of hospital and ICU demand.
Gov. Walz's previous decisions to extend Stay at Home orders have also been accompanied by a "turning of the dials" to allow more businesses and recreational amenities to re-open.
It's possible that an extension on Wednesday will see a similar loosening, with Walz having previously talked about small retail and small family gatherings being next on the list.
But it also comes at a time that an increasing number of businesses are planning to violate the governor's orders and re-open without permission, including at least a dozen bars and restaurants in Stearns County.