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Governor Walz talks schools, sports, ramping up testing in Monday interview

Walz says molecular diagnostic testing could see a boost within days.

Governor Tim Walz is set to speak to Minnesotans about the latest developments in the state's response to the novel coronavirus outbreak during a Monday afternoon press conference, but he spoke candidly about the future of schools, high school sports and testing increases during a Monday morning interview with Dave Lee on WCCO Radio

"Unfortunately, I don't think so," Walz said when asked if schools or high school sports would be able to resume this school year. "I don't think you set unreasonable expectations with people. 

"That breaks my heart ... thinking of all these kids out there. These kids put their whole life gaming for that opportunity to compete and maybe win a state championship or section championship, and to not see that is pretty disheartening, but I think the chances are pretty slim."

Minnesota's COVID-19 death toll is rising daily, increasing by 42.5 percent in the past three days. There have been 134 confirmed fatalities since the first case of the disease was announced on March 6.

  • March 21-27: 4 deaths
  • March 28-April 3: 18 deaths
  • April 4-10: 35 deaths
  • April 11-17: 54 deaths

"I think the worst is still yet to come. But we've done a really good job of positioning ourselves to be able to withstand it," said Walz. 

Getting Minnesotans and businesses back to a semblance of a normal life is tied directly to increased testing, both for the virus and through serologic testing that can find antibodies in blood that suggest a person was previously infected.

Related: U of M, Mayo Clinic testing provides hope for MN in COVID-19 fight

"We're going to try and massively increase our testing, both the molecular testing on the front end that let's us know if somebody is sick right now. Anybody who needs to get a test because they're symptomatic should be able to get a test, and that's my goal within the next few days," the governor said. 

"And then we're still trying to deal with this serology test. I know there's stories out there that there are some bad products on the market, but Mayo's [Mayo Clinic] is not a bad product. Mayo's the gold standard. I think my goal of trying to make sure everybody who needs a test and symptomatic gets one, and that we massively increase serology testing. 

"We're on the brink of that and I hope you get to see this week because there's some pretty good movement in that direction."

Both the Mayo Clinic and M Health Fairview have said they will be working to distribute testing to provide access at its facilities and those of partner organizations across the state.

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