Updated:
Original:

Governor Walz: We can't re-open Minnesota's economy without widespread testing

At least 5,000 tests per day are needed, according to Walz.
Author:

More than 400,000 Minnesotans have filed for unemployment since March 16 and there remains little optimism that affected businesses and workers will be able to get back on the job when the current "Stay at Home" order expires May 4. 

Testing for COVID-19 remains a major issue, as does the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to the state's healthcare workers as the global supply remains low and the demand extremely high. 

It's partly because of the shortage of PPE and testing supplies that Gov. Tim Walz has implemented the Stay at Home order, in order to give the state and health systems more time to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak and limit its spread.

How much testing is necessary before Walz says he could comfortably get Minnesotans back to work? Approximately 40,000 a week, via a mixture of tests between identifying infected COVID-19 carriers and serology antibody tests that can determine if someone has already recovered from the disease. 

It's a daunting number considering there have been 38,427 COVID-19 tests in the entire state since the outbreak began, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Typically, the state's public health lab and independent laboratories combine to test 1,000 to 1,800 samples a day. 

"We need to be testing 40,000 a week, or more. We need to be making sure that the testing and the PPE are there. To do so, we need to be testing 5,000 people a day and that needs to happen as soon as possible," said Walz on Monday, adding that more involved contact tracing – finding out places and people an infected person has been or been in contact with – and isolating infected Minnesotans will also be critical. 

"The plan to re-open is very, very clear: Test, trace, isolate and then open back up, and continue this until we get a vaccine," the governor said. 

"To do that testing you need the test kits, you need the reagents (the chemicals needed to test), you need the swabs and you need the PPE, all of which are in short supply across the country," he added.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Will that kind of testing capacity be possible by the time the current "Stay at Home" order ends on May 4? "We're gonna find out," said Walz, calling it a "moonshot" while adding that he's not sure if it's realistic but "it's certainly a goal we need to shoot for."

The governor said state leaders are "working with a lot of partners" and that the public should expect a big push in testing and PPE enhancements in due time, but guaranteeing it by May 4 is "too early to say." 

"There's not a debate here about whether we need to get the economy open again, of course we do," Walz said. "The debate and the strategy is, how do you do that in a way that ensures, as this virus continues on for the next 12 months or whatever it takes to get a vaccine, that we are in a place where we can weather these squalls that come in and blow out again.

The Minnesota Department of Health clearly stated last week that the upcoming peak of the outbreak, expected to hit Minnesota sometime between mid-May and mid-July, is likely only the first of multiple peaks during the pandemic.

Next Up

Kirk Cousins

There's something different about Kirk Cousins, but what is it?

Cousins's "swag" has fueled a hot start to the season.

Cameron Dantzler

Cameron Dantzler tweets out frustration over playing time

The second-year corner has been benched while Bashaud Breeland continues to struggle.

Pizabay pizza

Chaska Papa Murphy's to temporarily close due to worker shortage

The closure is "due to a lack of employees and applicants across the company," the manager wrote.

Hailey Anderson Cumberland WI police

Authorities find body, vehicle in search for missing WI woman

Hailey Anderson was supposed to be travelling to Hibbing, but never showed up.

KAT, Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns sounds off on Wolves' constant 'instability'

Gersson Rosas' firing was the latest in a string of problem situations the Wolves have been involved with.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Duluth man arrested after police chase in stolen pickup truck

He was driving a vehicle that had been reported stolen in North Dakota.

pixabay tractor farm

1 killed in crash between car and tractor in western MN

First responders arrived and found the vehicle off the roadway, in a cornfield.

Stallings surveillance footage - screengrab - crop

New video, body cam footage shows police beating prone Jaleel Stallings

Stallings, who was acquitted, said he fired on the unmarked van not knowing officers were inside.

Bloomington Wentworth scene  - 2021-09-27 - J Nelson 2

Body in dumpster leads to police chase with young child in car

A 911 call said they saw someone place a body into a dumpster outside a Bloomington apartment complex.

st. paul tap - crop

SUV driver crashes into bar patio, injuring woman; man hurt in related shooting

Two men were arguing on the patio prior to the incident, witnesses said.

bicycle cyclist bike

Cyclist critically injured in hit-and-run in Plymouth

Police are seeking the public's help in locating the driver who fled.

ambulance, crash

Second person dies after head-on crash in Anoka County

The crash injured three others, including a 4-year-old boy.

Related

Tim Walz

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

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

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Fauci on same page as MN governor about re-opening economy

A full re-opening of the economy by May 4 is a "moonshot" goal, Gov. Walz said Monday.

Mayo clinic

Mayo Clinic says it can handle enough tests per day to end MN's shutdown

Gov. Tim Walz set a target of 5,000 tests a day, which the Mayo says it can handle.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz sounds COVID-19 alarm, launches massive testing initiative

Despite huge increases in testing, Minnesota's percent positive rate keeps rising.

coronavirus, covid-19, shelter-in-place, Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Reports: Walz set to issue 'shelter-in-place' order for Minnesota

Walz is set to address the state at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.58.26 PM

Walz discusses COVID-19, no plans to re-close businesses, schools

The governor is urging Minnesotans to follow the current safety protocols.

golf

Walz considering idea of keeping golf courses open in Minnesota

More than 15,000 people have signed a petition with hopes that courses stay open.

coronavirus, covid-19

Gov. Walz responds to critics of MN's 'Stay at Home' order

Minnesota's "Stay at Home" order is in place until May 4.