Gov. Tim Walz announced expanded restrictions in order to better prepare the state for the continued spread of COVID-19 Wednesday, but some GOP leaders are pushing back and criticizing the move’s effect on business.
Walz’s “Stay at Home” executive order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday and restricts all travel not deemed essential for the next two weeks. The order also extends the closure of public accommodations, including dine-in bars and restaurants, through May 1, and schools through May 4.
While Walz said the action won’t reduce infections, he pointed to data that indicates it will help delay the outbreak’s peak and allow hospitals more time to prepare.
Without mitigation, the state’s infection rate is projected to peak at 9 weeks. With the shelter in place action, that peak is projected at 14 weeks.
But Minnesota GOP leaders were quick to criticize the action. Former Minnesota Congressman and current candidate for U.S. Senate Jason Lewis went as far as to call on the state to reopen businesses on Monday to all but the most vulnerable."
Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan also took to Twitter to voice concerns over the order’s economic impact.
"At some point we need to realize the long-term impacts the executive orders will and are having on our families and businesses. At what point does the damage become irreparable and unrecoverable?
We care about the health and safety of our world. That is not disputed. But, we also care about the vibrancy of our businesses, families and state. The two are not mutually exclusive. It shouldn’t have to be one or the other.
I understand the 'flattening the curve' and agree on health and safety. But I do not agree with Gov. Walz’s executive order. Minnesotans were already 'sheltering in place' without an order. We took this serious from Day 1. We weren’t partying on South Beach."
The concerns raised by Minnesota's leading Republicans echo those expressed by some other prominent GOPers, including President Trump, who has called for the country's economy to re-open by Easter despite the health experts and scientists warning it could put catastrophic strain on the nation's hospitals and lead to a spike in deaths.
At the most extreme end of the spectrum is the Lt. Gov. of Texas Dan Patrick, who suggested older Americans would be willing to put themselves at risk of dying if it saved the country from economic collapse.
Chamber of Commerce, medical group backs 'Stay at Home' order
Despite the push back, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce praised Walz’s decision and response to the outbreak.
"Minnesotans’ health and safety are paramount concerns for all of us. We have heard from countless Chamber members anticipating the impact of staying at home, and we understand that balance is essential in how government responds safeguard public health and protect the economy for the long-term,” Chamber President Doug Loon said in a statement.
Walz's order has also been backed by the Minnesota Medical Association, which said making sure facilities have time to prepare for the virus’s peak will be critical in how the outbreak plays out in the state.
“Minnesota physicians appreciate the significance and disruption that this decision means for the safety, security, and economic vitality of the state,” said MMA President Keith Stelter in a statement. “This order gives Minnesota’s health care system the strongest possible chance to adequately prepare for the predicted impact of this virus.