Governor Tim Walz on Friday hinted at the likelihood of additional measures he could take as soon as next week to help Minnesota better combat an escalating COVID-19 crisis.
"If we're going to beat this thing, now is the time," Walz said. "It is time to suck it up and get through this."
The governor was twice asked to provide specifics but he declined to elaborate about what his next moves are.
"We haven't determined that yet," Walz said on the press call. "I can’t give you a specific. But I think it’s clear that at this point with this infection rate, indoor activities with large numbers – especially 18 to 35 year olds – are certainly an area of concern."
Hinting further, Walz confirmed that "more changes will probably have to happen" and that he's evaluating the data regarding "those types of places where people are gathering close together – indoors – for extensive periods of time."
Earlier this week Walz signed an executive order that forces bars and restaurants to close indoor services by 10 p.m., while also limiting the number of people allowed at social gatherings.
Walz warned that it's going to be a "bumpy few weeks" ahead, noting that it took Minnesota 27 weeks to reach its first 100,000 cases, just seven further weeks to get to 200,000 and it appears likely that it'll have been just three more weeks when Minnesota hits 300,000 cases.
University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm agreed.
"We could expect to see these cases go much higher than they are today. My best professional judgement is we could easily be in the mid to high 200,000 cases a day (in the U.S.) if substantial changes aren't made," said Osterholm.
Osterholm has said multiple times in the past week that a strict national lockdown of 4-6 weeks would be the most impactful way to regain control over the novel coronavirus, while noting on his podcast Thursday that Walz's limits on social gatherings and early bar closures will probably only have a minimal impact.
Minnesota has more than 1,400 people with COVID-19 hospitalized as of Nov. 12, and with a lag time of 7-21 days after testing positive, hospitalizations are likely to continue to further strain the state's healthcare system in the weeks ahead despite Walz's executive actions.
"Our healthcare systems are literally being overrun and these numbers continue to increase," Osterholm said. "We are in uncharted territories."