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Minnesota family doctors urge Gov. Walz to issue 'shelter in place' order

The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians made the plea in a letter to the governor Monday.

While Gov. Tim Walz has so far resisted the urge to issue a "shelter in place" order for Minnesota, a group of family doctors is calling on him to reconsider.

The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) sent a letter to the governor's office on Monday asking him to make the declaration that would shut down "non-essential" businesses for at least two weeks.

The MAFP, which represents almost 3,200 family physicians, said the move is "necessary" to ensure the robustness of the state's healthcare system as it deals with the expected influx of serious COVID-19 cases.

"Minnesota can be a national model for flattening the curve and slowing the rate of infection," the MAFP says. 

"Acting now to close non-essential businesses for at least two weeks and discourage people from leaving their homes will keep more Minnesotans from getting sick while preserving medical resources and demonstrating what is possible with preventive action.

"Every person who stays at home and avoids hospitalization is saving medical personnel, medical equipment and hospital beds for someone else who will require help."

Gov. Walz's administration has taken action earlier than many other states in response to coronavirus, shuttering schools and closing dine-in service restaurants and entertainment venues even when Minnesota only had a small number of confirmed cases.

But on Monday, Walz said he wanted to keep a shelter in place order in the locker until the data showed it was necessary, saying a lot of other states are making the decision without knowing if it's necessary.

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He's also warned that a "shelter in place" order would likely last longer than the 2 weeks being called for by the MAFP.

"It's certainly possible or probable that we're going to come to the same conclusion," said Walz, referring to other states' issuing stay-at-home orders. Such an order in Minnesota would likely be for an extended period of time.

"This will not be able to be a shelter in place for a week to two weeks. It will probably have to look more like multiple weeks to months to get the desired effect of slowing it down," said Walz. 

States to already issue a stay-at-home order: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, Wisconsin.

While shelter in place orders vary from state to state, the MAFP says that liquor stores should be kept open as "essential businesses," noting that people suffering from alcohol addiction will withdraw without access and take up hospital beds.

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