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Minnesota Nurses Association has 'reservations' over lifting of Stay at Home

The union says that too many nurses go without adequate PPE.

The Minnesota Nurses Association says it has "reservations" about Gov. Tim Walz's decision to allow Minnesota's Stay at Home order to expire on Monday.

The order will be replaced with a "Stay Safe" order, which allows malls and non-essential retail to re-open at 50 percent capacity, while the state is working on a plan with the hospitality industry to possibly re-open bars, restaurants, fitness centers and salons on June 1.

On Wednesday, Gov. Walz said that the state is able to do this now that it has built up the ICU capacity and stores of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers required in the event of a surge.

However, the Minnesota Nurses Association has expressed concerns that the state has not increased testing for COVID-19 at the rate it had promised, and despite the state being confident of its PPE stocks, that doesn't mean supplies find its way to every hospital and every nurse who needs it.

"The Minnesota Nurses Association has reservations with the timing of lifting the state's shelter-in-place orders at a time when hospitals continue to dangerously ration PPE, new supply lines have not appeared in state warehouses, and the Minnesota Department of Health still cannot show that testing has dramatically increased," the union said in a statement Wednesday.

"Nurses also hope to re-open Minnesota businesses as soon as possible, but, just as many other Minnesotans have expressed, it’s not possible to do so without jeopardizing the safety of healthcare workers and all Minnesotans.

"Nurses believe that the decision to turn the dial to re-open Minnesota requires every Minnesotan to turn the dial to find more PPE, more beds, and more tests while protecting healthcare workers and each other."

One of the major concerns brought up by Walz as he announced loosening restrictions was the growing evidence that fewer Minnesotans are social distancing, which is a major reason that the state's models are now projecting a higher death toll than previously.

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He called on all Minnesotans to wear masks when they're out to protect others, but whether this is widely adopted remains to be seen. Wisconsin's bars re-opened on Wednesday evening and there have since been several images of bars filled with customers not social distancing and not wearing masks.

In Wednesday's media briefing, Walz says he doesn't "dispute the nurses who are deeply concerned," noting that "it tends to be not all hospitals are created equal, and I hear this."

He also said that if some of the indicators they look for concerning the spread of coronavirus is "how we're turning from green and yellow to orange and red, we're going to be turning down the dial."

"These are judgement decisions, complex ones, it's it's going to be dependent on how well Minnesotans are able to do this," he said.

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